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How Gratitude Can Take Your Golf Game to the Next Level

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What are you grateful for? That might seem like a strange question to ask a golfer in a performance article, but the emotion of gratitude can help take your performance to the next level. Research has linked the emotion of gratitude to better overall physical and mental health, as well as sounder sleep, reduced anxiety and lower incidences of depression. Athletes who are more satisfied with their performances are also less likely to burn out and more likely to enjoy an better overall well being.

In my work with athletes, and in previous articles I have written for GolfWRX, I highlight the importance of enjoyment over achievement, which is making sure that enjoyment is at the forefront of performance in golf with achievement following. Golfers who pursue achievement in the game so diligently that they forget about the key purposes of sport, enjoyment and fun, can often end frustrated and miserable. Golfers who pursue enjoyment first, with a deep commitment to excellence and improvement, are the ones who achieve and last in the game.

So why can focusing on gratitude be so beneficial to you as a golfer?

Well, consider that it is impossible to have two emotions at once. The same goes for thoughts; we can only handle one at a time. As a golfer, this is important to know. When you feel negative emotions that limit your performance, you have the option of changing your state to a positive emotion. Gratitude is a great one to make the shift.

Characteristics of Grateful Golfers

Grateful golfers appreciate what they have. While some players complain, make excuses and don’t appreciate the fantastic opportunity of sport, grateful players are excited to have the opportunity to play a sport they love and enjoy all the benefits that are related to sport: fitness, relationships, life lessons, the joy of winning, learning from losing, and the opportunity to challenge and test their abilities.

Grateful golfers are grateful for competitors. Appreciate your competitors! Competitors can bring out the best in you, and without them you do not have the opportunity to play and test your limits. In his autobiography, former Olympic track star Carl Lewis said he chose to embrace his competitors as essential in the quest for performance excellence, rather than to see them as enemies meant to be beaten down. Lewis won 10 Olympic medals, nine of them gold. You need your competitors!

Grateful golfers appreciate the journey and struggle. They know that there will be difficulties and golf often goes in up-and-down cycles. Grateful players learn from these struggles and always move forward. There is an appreciation in the value of their struggles and an ability to look at the big picture and know there are brighter days ahead.

Grateful golfers “sweep the shed.” Like the World Champion New Zealand All Blacks, the great rugby team that tidies up its dressing room after every training and game, grateful players appreciate everyone around them. They appreciate everything they receive; there is no attitude of entitlement.

Grateful golfers enjoy pressure. Is there pressure in sports? Absolutely. But grateful players recognize the incredible opportunity they have to demonstrate their skills and test their limits. You play a game you love with people engaged and watching you. Grateful golfers appreciate the meaning that pressure gives their experience. They know pressure is a privilege. Grateful players look around and appreciate the challenge that is being given to them.

Grateful golfers do not rely on winning. Because they are so focused on a great process and appreciate great competition, the joy of grateful players is not dependent on winning. They want to win, but appreciate their process, the competition and the challenge.

Grateful golfers let go. When it’s time to play and practice, it’s done with purpose, intention and efficiency. Grateful players work hard with intention, but they also appreciate and enjoy their time away from practice and competition, appreciating all parts of their life.

What You Can Do To Become A Grateful Golfer

Many things, and it’s a little different for everyone, but here’s a start.

1. Never forget how lucky you are to be playing a fantastic game like golf, which gives you the opportunity to express yourself and has the opportunity to give your life meaning.

2. Remember you can only feel one emotion at once. Replace anxious feelings with feelings of gratefulness. You must make the decision to change your state with a shift to being grateful for the opportunity to participate in the game of golf.

3. Think about two things you are grateful for at the end of each day. Get in the habit of being grateful for things in your golf and in your life.

Remember to be grateful for what you have including your opportunity to play golf. Golf is never something you have to do, but always something you get to do!

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John Haime is the President of New Edge Performance. He's a Human Performance Coach who prepares performers to be the their best by helping them tap into the elusive 10 percent of their abilities that will get them to the top. This is something that anyone with a goal craves, and John Haime knows how to get performers there. John closes the gap for performers in sports and business by taking them from where they currently are to where they want to go.  The best in the world trust John. They choose him because he doesn’t just talk about the world of high performance – he has lived it and lives in it everyday. He is a former Tournament Professional Golfer with professional wins. He has a best-selling book, “You are a Contender,” which is widely read by world-class athletes, coaches and business performers.  He has worked around the globe for some of the world’s leading companies. Athlete clients include performers who regularly rank in the Top-50 in their respective sports. John has the rare ability to work as seamlessly in the world of professional sports as he does in the world of corporate performance. His primary ambition writing for GolfWRX is to help you become the golfer you'd like to be. See www.johnhaime.com for more. Email: john@newedgeperformance.org

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. asugrad1988

    Apr 25, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I have had a very good golf life. I’ve played for over 50 years and won a lot of tournaments. I also volunteer at a local food pantry. You see some very pitiful people coming in to get free food. Most all of them have some really sad stories.
    Now when I’m playing golf, if I hit a shot that’s not good or my round is not up to my expectations, I just remember those people at the food pantry and how much I spend each month to belong to a private club, and then I realize how many of those people that come in the food pantry would love to trade places with me for just one day, and I realize my round wasn’t so bad after all.

    • John Haime

      Apr 25, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Thanks for the comment asugrad – that’s a great reminder and perspective that we have to enjoy every minute of our time in golf.

  2. Kenny Taylor

    Apr 25, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Thanks John. As a retired Navy SEAL and burgeoning performance consultant for youth sports, performance artists and young men interested having a career in the Military Special Operations, the message that “Pressure is a Privilege” really hit a chord for me. When people take time out of their lives to work with you on attaining your performance goals, is it a privilege and some thing to be grateful for.many
    Playing golf and testing your abilities in a vacuum and the range or on the course without fellow competitors, is hardly a test, it’s practice. I am grateful to have friends to share my golf experiences with. Most of us (amateurs), don’t have admiring fans standing outside the ropes, but those few people in our foursomes are often plenty to provide the pressure an external motivation to stay focused our process and attempt to play well.
    Thanks for the EI insight.

  3. Bigputt18

    Apr 25, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I have had a very good golf life. I’ve played for over 50 years and won a lot of tournaments. I also volunteer at a local food pantry. You see some very pitiful people coming in to get free food. Most all of them have really sad stories.
    Now when I’m playing golf, if I hit a shot that’s not good or my round is not up to my expectations, I just remember those people at the food pantry and how much I spend each month to belong to a private club, and then I realize how many of those people that come in the food pantry would love to trade places with me for just one day, and I realize my round wasn’t so bad after all.

  4. 8thehardway

    Apr 23, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Grateful to whom? I think you’re describing “appreciation,” a completely reflective process with no hint of (externally oriented) obligation, indebtedness or response.

    • John Haime

      Apr 23, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Hi,

      Many thanks for the comment and perspective.

      The article is about the feelings of being grateful for what the game provides and how it adds value to our lives.

      Yes, being grateful is about being appreciative for the wonderful benefits received (from the game). Those benefits are derived in many different ways – some outlined in the article – but just generally being appreciative and carrying the feeling of gratefulness before we play, during and after play. I think you’ll find appreciation in the definition of grateful along with others like thankful etc.

  5. coolhandbirdman

    Apr 22, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    To be able to walk in the hills of the finger lakes on a sunday wearing shorts enjoying a beer on the back nine with my friends. Sticking a few pins is an extra bonus. But thats why I’m grateful for golf.

    • John Haime

      Apr 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Exactly! Enjoy the game, enjoy your friends and enjoy the challenge – what could be better!

      Thanks for the great comment.

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Opinion & Analysis

5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

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You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

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TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

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Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Gear Dive: Vokey Wedge expert Aaron Dill

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Titleist Tour Rep Aaron Dill on working under Bob Vokey, How he got the gig and working with names like JT, Jordan and Brooks.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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