For the last several years I’ve played almost all of my golf at my home course. I enjoy playing different courses, but that isn’t how things have worked out recently. But last week I got a call from a guy I knew with a great offer of a round at a nice course and I jumped at the chance. I’d never played the course or played with the guys that would be there, and a change sounded like fun.
I had vowed not to look like an idiot, so I started out carefully. I hit a decent opening drive on the par 5 first hole, laid up carefully into no-man’s land, misjudged my half wedge, and made bogey. The second hole was a sharp dogleg from an elevated tee. Uncertain if I would hit through the dogleg, I held back a little and hit a little push slice. After a cautious second shot to just short of the green I pitched short (worried about running it off the back of a fast green), putted short (ditto), and made double. On the par 3 third I listened to a variety of opinions about what to hit, tried to hit my 6 hybrid too hard, pulled it, and bogeyed.
About this time I decided to just hit the ball like I knew what I was doing even if I didn’t know what was over the next rise. I enjoyed myself a lot more and ended up with a 7 over 79 after going 4 over in the first 3 holes. I hit it into a few stupid spots, but I just kept trying to play each shot aggressively and with commitment.
When I get in trouble on the course or don’t have a good time, it’s usually because I can’t settle into the shot and the game. I don’t decide on the shot and play it with confidence. I don’t clear my mind and just concentrate on hitting the ball. Instead I question my decisions, let my mind wander, and only half of me plays golf. The other half of me watches me try to play golf.
I have to learn this lesson over and over, but I think I’m beginning to get a handle on my multiple personality disorder and just hit the ball. That other half can watch all he wants as long as he keeps his opinions to himself, at least until after the round. I get tired of him asking, “Are you sure?” at the top of my backswing.
I totally agree with your idea that golf played with total commitment to each shot usually produces better results. When I am questioning myself over 8-iron or 7-iron, too often when I select 7-iron, at the top of my backswing “8-iron?” inevitably pops into my head.
Recently I decided to breakdown and buy either a laser range finder or GPS unit. I never embraced electronic technology in golf. I relied on the 200/150/100 posts/markers and sprinkler heads if marked. Plus, I have always been sort of lazy about yardages (“hmmm, seems to be about mid-point between the 100 and 150 so it probably is 125. No point in pacing it off”). My hope is that knowing the exact yardage will give me more confidence in my club selection. We shall see just as soon as the snowpack melts and the ground thaws.
I’ve had a laser rangefinder for a few years, and find it very helpful, especially on courses I don’t know. It’s eliminated my uncertainty about distance measurement, but it’s made me aware of how variable my distance with my clubs is. Now I worry about wind, elevation change, and how well (or more accurately, how poorly) I’ll strike the ball. I guess that’s progress.