I have taught golf for a long time and have heard just about every reason why someone wants to play golf and doesn’t want to play golf. Recently, however, a lady golfer came to me sharing a deep lament regarding her inner golf conflict that took the cake. Frustrated at her debilitating scores and heightening frustration, she had plaguing thoughts of quitting the game. She confessed to me, “I can’t quit golf. I have too many golf outfits!”
Now I have found that I can wear my golf shirts in a variety of places. For instance, right now I am at a conference, visiting a place where I have not been in years. As soon as I walked into the building and approached the front desk, the security guard took one look at my bright pink U.S. Open logoed shirt and exclaimed, “Veronica! I have not seen you in eight years! Are you still playing golf?” So shirts can serve to identify us outside the links. I must admit, however, to wear an entire golf outfit with some zigs and zags on a short skirt can be a bit disconcerting away from the fairway. All this to say, my deepest empathy was aroused at the thought of this poor woman having to forsake an entire wardrobe if she could no longer play the game! I immediately went to work to rescue her wardrobe, her golf game, and her self-esteem.
First, we sat down and carved out a strategy for play that included the entire season. The best way to tackle the quitting demons was to create a long-term mindset that included a developmental approach to her game. I showed her how her most immediate tournament would build to her most important tournament. That way her mind had a big picture—in this case, a big hanger—to create a working framework for her progress and to identify where her season would peak.
The next thing we did was tackle her over analyzed swing. She was able to loosen up her thinking and create a strategy for the practice range and then another strategy for playing. I could tell she wanted to keep those clothes because she was willing to put into practice what I was teaching her and truly do the work. Until a golfer owns her own game, she is truly not in a position to keep wearing those coveted golf clothes.
As she implemented everything I told her to do, her confidence immediately rose, and her scores began to drop, until a daunting day in the sand traps almost did her in. “I just can’t get out of the traps!” she complained with great angst. “Three holes cost me 8 shots today! Grrrr!” We spent most of the lesson focused on how her set up and swing path had to be adjusted for the uphill, sidehill lies in particular. All of a sudden, she began to hit each shot out of the trap and towards the pin. “Amazing!” I said to her. “You were ready to quit and donate those golf clothes to the Coalition, and all you needed was a little wisdom that you did not have.” She looked at me sheepishly and concurred, “Amazing!”
Her fight to keep her wardrobe was tested again the next week. Frustrated that she finally could score a good nine holes in the 40’s but not do it back to back for a good 18 hole score, I told her, “Play 18 holes with 2 balls. Keep score with your best ball on each hole.” This is the strategy to use to get yourself out of your comfort zone. It will show you that you really do have the ability to shoot the score you desire. Your goal is to put two 9 holes together in one round. Keep your mind open and on your ultimate goal.”
She kept working on her goal, which also gave her plenty of opportunity to wear some of her favorite golf outfits. One day she emailed me with excitement, “I am getter better and decided to sign up for several more tournaments! One is next week.”
The day before the tournament she attended one of my mental game workshops. Wanting so much to win, I had to emphasize how important it was to not focus on her final score, but her process goals. We created four words—mental hangers—that she would focus on during her play under pressure. Each word represented a different zone: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
She left feeling empowered about her focus and playing strategy. Here is what she wrote me the day after the tournament this week, “Amazing! Our team had fun today. I kept my mantra of smooth tempo, accept each shot, happy and fun. I had the best round of our group with 41/43. My best score in a year. Thank you…I think I’ll buy a new outfit!”