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Own Your Game: Here’s a process to help you manage your golf emotions

He or she who misses it best without getting ticked ... wins.

This is the absolute truth.

We had a saying on Tour when someone “lost it.” We would comment on who was the best at “showing color” – getting ticked off and going nuts. Melt downs, if you will. There are many ways to lose it in golf. You can swear (I am really good at this), yell, throw clubs, slam your club into the ground, or even break clubs.

Why do we get so upset?

Because we don’t get what we want. Why don’t we get what we want? A few reasons. Golf is by far the most mentally torturous game in the world. Why? Because we cannot control the outcome. Even though we are the only one holding the club and the ball isn’t moving, we can’t make the ball do what we want every time. In reality, we are only playing the course and ourselves. Those two opponents are far more difficult to defeat than we imagine.

Why does this game drive us to insanity? I believe there are just a couple reasons.

1. Reality. Do a personal reality check. Do you possess the skills to perform the tasks? Do you know how far you hit the ball with each club? Do you align for each shot? Are you positive you know where you are aiming? Most people aim their shoulders and feet at the target. Not the club face. The club face is what needs to be aligned to the target.

2. Denial. We think we are better than we truly are. In Butch Harmon’s book, “The Pro, Lessons From My Father About Golf and Life,” he talks about a time when he played bad and came home to see his father, Claude. His dad taught him a great lesson. He said to him, “You aren’t good enough to get mad.”

Ah, those expectations. Yes, in my mind I can pull that shot off. In reality, not so much. Depending on your personality style, I suggest you make a deal with yourself. If you are a risk taker, do not “go for it” unless you have a 50/50 chance of pulling it off. If you are more conservative, maybe the odds need to go up to 70/30.

3. Focus. You have what I call internal obstacles that inhibit you from staying focused on the task at hand. You must become aware of your internal chatter. You are the boss of what you think. Pay attention to what you are telling yourself. Then redirect the noise. Focus on what you want to create.

I have a three step process that might help you not show too much color on the course.

1. React. You have five seconds to react to your shot. Get ticked, slam your clubs, or swear.

2. Respond. Notice where the ball went. Right? Left? You skulled it? Ask yourself why? The ball went to the right because the face was pointing there. (The ball always goes where the face points). Every Tour player in the world knows why they miss shots. They are able to respond to what they just did, so they can do the next step.

3. Recover. Once you know why the ball went where it did, you can adapt and adjust to be sure you fix the mistake.

Everyone gets ticked. Try to learn to react and respond so you can recover. It will make your game much more enjoyable.

Next Up: Play Your Game.

Silver Creek native Cindy Miller, who counts the 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year award among her many golf accomplishments, is writing the “Own Your Game” column for The News. Her next column will appear Aug. 7.


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