Mantras, though often associated with meditation, can be anything you repeatedly, intentionally say to yourself. We were all introduced to this idea as children by The Little Engine That Could – “I think I can, I think I can.” The purposes of a mantra can be as varied as the sayings themselves, from motivation to finding a sense of calm. In this lesson, I’m going to offer a simple golf mantra to help you enjoy the game more, and, in all likelihood, play better.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You aren’t enjoying your practice
You’re practicing but not seeing results on the course
High expectations are ruining your fun and performance
For those that are new here, my primary goal for Plugged In Golf is to help people enjoy the game more. I’ve attacked this problem from a variety of angles, including sharing the data on how good recreational golfers actually are [check it out HERE] and discussing how to control your self-talk [read more HERE]. Today’s lesson is about recognizing the power of expectations and how we can get out ahead of them.
The Thief In Your Mind
It’s said that comparison is the thief of joy. While I wouldn’t argue with that, I’d add that expectations are an accomplice. In golf, I find that expectations – realistic or not – are often fueled by practice.
While this mantra will work for those with unrealistic expectations, they’re not my focus. If you think that going to the range once a week entitles you to never slice the ball again, you probably need a professional to get you back in touch with reality.
This mantra is really meant to help the player who is working on their game every possible moment. When you’re putting in 100% effort, it feels completely fair to expect consistent, positive results. And when those results don’t come, it’s natural to feel disappointed. We can work toward fixing that with one sentence.
Repeat After Me…
“Regardless of what I did to prepare, I am not guaranteed anything.”*
There is nothing in life that has a 1:1 correlation of effort to results, but golf’s correlation may be among the worst. Golf is finicky, and the best players and hardest workers can still shoot bad scores.
That lack of direct connection can be maddening, but it’s also where the magic is. If improvement and good play were predictable, there would be no point (or at least no joy) in playing.
And so that we’re clear, I’m not suggesting that practice won’t improve your game and your chances of playing well. We know that it will. But it’s the expectations and entitlement that ruin not only your enjoyment of the round but also your ability to play well. Playing from a defensive mindset – “I’ve practiced so hard that I better hit this shot perfectly or else” – will result in worse performance than being free.
*You’re welcome to put your own spin on that. The magic is in the concept, not the specific words.
Another benefit of this golf mantra is that it frees you to enjoy practice. When you’re grinding, punching the clock so you can feel entitled to better results, you’re probably not having fun. Practice for its own sake. Practice because you enjoy having a club in your hand. Practice because you enjoy making the ball fly or roll into the cup.
There is no destination in golf. The best players in the world still want to be better. If you’re not enjoying the journey, you’re missing the point.
When it comes to strength training, I know that I’ll never be peak Ronnie Coleman, but I enjoy putting in the work and giving myself a chance to be the best, strongest version of me. I’m trying to find that with my golf. I hope you can, too.