The power of positivity: Don’t forget your strengths

Ask someone how they’re playing, and this is what you inevitably hear:

“I’m just not hitting the ball consistently well. My driver is all over the place, I hit some really bad wedges in my last round and I just don’t feel good over the ball. Let me tell you about that horrible shot on the 13th hole …”

Do you EVER hear this?

“I didn’t shoot a good score, but I hit 10 excellent shots – I counted. There was the drive on No. 3, the great bunker shot on No. 4, the lasered 5-iron on the eighth, the 25-footer for par on No. 10 …”

Why is that? And what can we do to change it?

In reviewing my own rounds and listening to others review theirs, I have concluded that we need to celebrate our great game more rather than tear our own games down. There are so many positives about golf, and yet we let its inevitable frustrations turn us into a bunch of Negative Nellies.

That attitude goes right to our swing thoughts. Instead of standing over the ball and concentrating on just making a smooth, quality swing, the “don’ts” seep into our brains.

Don’t go left!

Don’t hit it fat this time!

Don’t hit it in that bunker!

And maybe most importantly:

Don’t embarrass yourself!

I can think of three ways to put a stop to these spirit-deflating thoughts.

First, stop taking it so seriously. The world isn’t going to stop turning on its axis if you don’t hit this shot dead solid perfect. Relax. R-E-L-A-X, as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers famously told fans several years ago.

Second, stop expecting to get the most out of every shot, but envision something good happening. Swing within yourself and be properly happy if the result is positive.

Third, and maybe most important, stop dwelling on all the bad shots and celebrate the good ones.

Let me give you an example from my round yesterday:

I hit a couple of horrific drives and two embarrassing short irons. My putting again was atrocious.

But I’m going to push aside the negatives and focus on the drives I bombed, the nicely struck mid-irons on a couple of par-3s and, in particular, a 5-wood onto the green on a par-5 out of a terrible lie in the rough. There’s my celebration.

Yes, there were four deflating double bogeys, but that’s golf – and all four of them were directly related to my short game. That’s where I’m going to react positively to a negative: I need to get my 56-degree wedge extended to the proper length, and I no longer can ignore the fact that it’s time to get a heavier putter with better technology.

I have a challenge for you: After your next round, write down all the good shots. Don’t worry about where they wound up. Just think about one thing: Were they struck well?

And if you had any shots that truly were first-rate, put a star by them and dwell on them for a bit. What were you thinking as you stood over those shots? Did you relax and just try to put a nice, smooth swing on them? Did you stop worrying about results and just enjoy yourself out there?

We often say golf is mostly mental, but then we let the mental side beat us. It becomes The War Between Our Ears.

Win the war this month by being positive, and that starts with taking positive actions. Practice more. Play more. And celebrate more.

Don’t let the “don’ts” win. Just do the best you can but do say to yourself, “I can do this.”

Then, when someone asks you about your round, tell them, “I hit some really good shots. In particular, there was the …”

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