I recently saw a tweet from one of the mental coaches I follow that said something to the effect that our goal should be to accept, or maybe even to be happy with, the outcome of every swing.
Well, just let me say, that in the immortal words of my swing coaches, Hall and Oates, “I can’t go for that, no can do.”
I’m sorry but that’s just ridiculous, and simply way too tall an order for somebody such as myself. First off, it sounds like some sort of Youth Soccer League approach to the game: every swing gets a trophy! Second, discerning between what we like and what we dislike isn’t just one of the things that make us human; based on the behavior of cats and dogs, it’s one of the things that makes us vertebrates. Hell, entire psychology textbooks are devoted to studying the preferences of lab rats. It’s a pretty low bar, but evidently one that this coach thinks I’m supposed to limbo under.
And besides, being discerning is useful. Ever notice how mold elicits a universal ‘yuck’ reaction from your fellow homo sapiens? Well that may not have always been the case. Back in the day there could have been lots of people who didn’t freak out when there was hair growing on their food. But for some reason they just never lived long enough to reproduce and give their clueless, non-judgmental genetic material another generation in which they could eat anything people put in front of them. I wonder why?
What I do think we should do is distinguish between the act and the actor, the shot and the shooter, or if you prefer, the swing and the swinger. All too often we automatically launch into a self-directed tirade of invective and scathing self-appraisal after a bad shot. I have a playing partner whose instant self-critiques are worth the price of admission. When he misses a putt it’s like a two-for-one deal: you win the hole and you get a good laugh. It’s like getting paid to go to a comedy show.
Obviously, if we are to improve at all at our game, we have to, in the parlance of the day, “own the shot.” You just don’t want to extrapolate from it. The bad shot is only an indicator of something we need to correct, not an indictment of our character, coordination and intelligence. In the end, you need to keep one thing in mind: hitting a lousy shot doesn’t make you a lousy golfer. Hitting lots of them does.