Dealing with a disappointing day
Golf is a great sport but it can also test our character and emotions to the limit.
Despite being the number one qualifier, I lost my first round match in this year’s Club Championship on the weekend.
I’ve been asked all week to explain what happened. This is not an easy thing to do and I’m not entirely convinced this self examination is all that beneficial. Over analysing can get to the point of “storytelling” to justify poor play and I don’t think that helps that much. I believe it’s best to move on and keep trucking as normal.
After a few days reflection these are my thoughts on what happened and what I can learn from this disappointing day, hopefully you’ll pick up a few pointers for dealing with those days where things just don’t go right.
My Opponent Played Well
First and foremost I can’t take anything away from Steve. He played really well and hit some quality shots when it really mattered. Despite being the underdog, he played with confidence under difficult conditions. The further the match went the better he played. He didn’t get tight and controlling – his swing and putting stroke remained free from tension, allowing him to play some great golf.
You can’t control your opponent and if he plays well you’re going to have your hands full – no matter what your handicap or ranking.
Lack of Preparation
If I’m totally honest my preparation was poor. I didn’t check the date for the first round – believing it was a week later I felt rushed and under prepared. Compounding my lack of organisation was attending a function the night before that got me home late before an important round. Not a good start.
I got frustrated during the middle of the game. Standing in the middle of the 9th fairway I looked like going 2up. For some reason the green keeper was still rolling the green. By the time he finished there was a build up on the tee – I rushed my shot (didn’t commit or follow routine) and made a poor swing. Steve recovered well from a poor drive and won the hole. This was a big turning point in the match.
I was feeling frustrated and my mind was spinning, “why were they rolling greens in the middle of the Club Champs?” and “Surely the could finish the front nine greens before the back nine?”. I was making excuses for not playing a good shot and my mind was not on the job. Master players are able to handle any obstacles that get thrown at them. Obviously I still have a long way to go in this matter – but I’ll keep working at it.
Playing too aggressively
I was one down playing 14. Despite a few mistakes and some poor play I was right in the match, with a good finish I was certain I could close out the game. But I made a bad mistake – I went for the par 5 14th green when it really was not the shot. I missed the shot slightly and paid for my overconfidence dearly.
Sometimes a conservative game plan is the right thing to do. The easier shot places less stress on your system and it still allows you to shoot good scores. In this situation (being 1 down with fives holes to play) I probably would have been better to lay up and make certain of a par five. The resulting loss was too great to make up on the closing holes.
Not trusting the process and playing safe
This probably hurts the most. I didn’t follow the automatic system fully. Being brutally honest, my swing and mindset was off slightly as I didn’t fully let go and trust my automatic game. I played safe and let some fear and the situation dictate how I played. I don’t know why this happened but I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen too often.
All up it was a bad day. A few errors at the wrong time didn’t help the situation. I’m trying to see the positives though. I’ve been on a dream run for the last year and I’m using this experience to motivate myself to achieve more. More than that it has reinforced the magic of playing automatically – there’s no comparison to a free flowing and natural game to one that is tight, fearfull and controlling. It’s a continual process of learning and discovering and one reason why golf is a great game.