If you say the word “Play” you immediately think of kids running around having fun, don’t you agree? They are often smiling and enjoying whatever it is they are doing. I have an eight year old nephew and he loves to play. In fact, If I call to say hello I often hear him in the background yell out, “I’m Playing!” This means, not now…I’m busy having fun.
So, my question to you is, “do you actually allow yourself to play when you play golf?” When you call the local golf course to make a tee time, you’re committing to spend upwards of four and a half hours of your day to “Play” golf. Yes, you’re also seeing 3 of your friends who have committed to do the same thing. You’ll probably plan to have a meal together or at least a snack either before or after the round. It is a very social thing this game of golf, that’s one of the reasons we enjoy it so much. It also gets us out in the fresh air and sunshine! We sometimes walk the course, so the added benefit of exercise is a plus! There are so many things to be gained while playing golf and one of them is the idea of play.
The question is, when you finally get to the first tee, does the idea of “Play” come to mind? Obviously we want to do well and we’ve been practicing and honing our skills to do just that. However, as we all know and as Bob Rotella expressed so succinctly, “Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect.” A true statement indeed. So when the first tee shot of the day ends up in a water hazard or fairway bunker, does the sense of play go right out the window only to be replaced by the sense of dread or discouragement? Does it happen at other points in your round when you miss a 3 footer for par? Do you then start to consider that something must have gone wrong with the mechanics of your swing or your putting stroke? So often, golfers go immediately to, “what was wrong with my swing on that shot” rather than take the opportunity to just let it go and move on to the shot at hand. If dealing with the good shot is easy for you but dealing with the bad shot makes other people duck behind a golf cart, then you might consider adding a bit more play into your game. Golf is golf and there will be good shots and bad, great shots and lucky shots!
If we lose the idea that golf is a game and that the idea of “play” has to be a part of the entire process, then the game of golf becomes not only stressful, but an emotional roller coaster as well. Whether you have those moments of pure joy watching a well struck ball land softly on a green or the angst of utter disappointment and frustration as your very next tee shot splashes into the pond, you are still playing a game. In golf, there will always be good shots and bad….a mirror image of life really. It sounds cliché, but turning the bad shots into opportunities for success is really the key to it all. When John Daly carded a 12 in a recent event, you might think his response would have been full of negatives. Instead, his comment was “it was a great 12!” He thought about how he played the hole and clearly came up with the fact that it really was a great 12. He was playing golf.
So the next time you go out to play, take a page out of John Daly’s book. Consider the idea that you’re playing a game and find the great in your round, regardless of the score. I guarantee it will be a lot more fun!