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The better I get the harder it is to enjoy it

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#1 Andrew Bond of Glencoe

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 10:11 PM

Curious if there is anybody out there like me. I am currently a 2 handicap and when I think about it, the better I have become at the game the less I tend to enjoy it. That statement shocks my buddies who are bogey golfers, but for me it can be true. It's not always true but it can be true.

I am extremely streaky as a golfer- perhaps because I started playing at the age of 28 (now 43). I can shoot really low (lowest round this year was (-8) 63 but I can also shoot in the mid-80s in any given round.

I remember relishing every round when I was a 9-12 handicap, but as a 2 I am quick to get upset with poor shots and have a certain expectation of playing well. It was so bad last month that I had to reset my behavior- I found myself swearing over bad shots and in terrible mood swings on the golf course. Fortunately I realized that I didn't like who I was becoming and changed my behavior and with it my scores dropped again.

Am I alone or is this common? Even though I changed my behavior I still am a hawk over my handicap. I don't like seeing it tick up.

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#2 Matt J

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 10:37 PM

I think you have to zoom out a little and watch your game over weeks and months rather than rounds.  Stay in the moment, enjoy each good shot, let go of results and hit the shot because it's the best play and fun and challenging.

Also, I think you can't get hung up on your index.  The most miserable guys I know cling to their handicap as part of their identity.  +2, -2, 6, 8... It's not going to change your life.  It's just a game.

I'm a 7 and I live for those rounds I challenge my personal best of +1.  But, I've learned to take pride in never giving up.  Beautiful story about Bobby Jones in the new Golf Digest, how he was in a slump and hit one shot that pulled him out.  That's what I'm always looking for... a little epiphany that turns into stripe city.

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#3 Petunia Sprinkle

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 11:07 PM

Most endeavors with any depth, as you pursue them further, eventually turn from entertainment into work. I don't mean 'work' as in a job, but it goes from something you play at to something you work on. It's hard to give up that 'fun' feel, but it probably would've died anyway (if you'd stayed at the same skill level, fun would've eventually turned into boredom). Because you've started this thread, I'm guessing you've probably narrowed your focus too much on the acquisition of skill. Acquiring skill means new opportunity is open to you that you didn't have before. The acquisition of greater skills is not so much an end in itself as it is a medium for new experiences, new ways of thinking and things you couldn't have anticipated before you got there.


#4 Jagpilotohio


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Posted 26 September 2017 - 11:24 PM

Interesting post. I can relate.  Not in exactly the same way, but In a slightly reversed way, over the last few years. Not in getting better, but getting worse.

I was a +2 teaching pro in the 90's.  Genuinely good at the game.. Life took its turns. I ended up doing other things professionally and playing very little for many years.

When I started playing more often again maybe 7 years ago, I found I got good again very quickly. Not quite at the same level of course,  but nearly scratch.

Unfortunately over the last 4 years I've been getting slowly worse due to physical issues. I Starting developing rheumatoid arthritis in my hands. Then I was hit on my motorcycle and shattered my pelvis 3 and a half years ago. 13 screws and 3 titanium plates later I still hurt every day and even after a year of rehab I never regained all my strength or my hip speed on the downswing.

Over the last 18 months my left knee has developed serious tendonits and posting up on it after impact is painful. I almost feel like It might collapse sometimes even wearing a brace..

So the long and short of it for me, is that I'm grateful im still playing, but a certain part of my brain is really angry that I can't perform like I used to.  I fully understand that I SHOULD be happy to go out and post a mid 70's round and occasionally break par,,...but I'm just not.  I find myself furious on the course at times, cursing and being an a$$hole, and it deeply bothers me. Part of me just can't let go of how I used to play. I'm trying really, really hard to be ok with the reality of it all,..but some days I just really can't help being furious about it.

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#5 sleezyt



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 12:58 AM

Same handicapp same problem. I had a similar talk to my self in my club championship. I was one of the favourites to win and was 5 over after 7 holes. I started playing really quickly and swearing to my self. Realizing i became the guy i always hate playing with i calmed down and started playing good. Finished 77 but could have been 85 the way things were heading.


#6 Ferguson


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 05:48 AM

Been there.   It’s a struggle, but you will be surprised to learn the struggle is not with your golf game.   Clearly you are a solid player.   You’re simply at a mental  plateau.

Do you have any other hobbies?    If not, find one.   If you have another one, invest more time with it.   You’ll enjoy the game a lot more by diverging some of your mental energy away from it.


#7 jimwgt26


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 06:17 AM

I picked this up from Me and My Golf. When you write your score down after each hole, circle it if you had no negative thoughts or negative self talk. It's like giving your brain a birdie for staying positive.


#8 augustgolf


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 06:35 AM

I hear what everyone is saying here, and OP....I would suppose that you could turn the TV on to any tournament, and see some of the golfers who aren't performing to what they expect to....Jordan Spieth comes to mind....Hidecki.....they expect perfection each and every shot, and when they hit a shot that most golfers would drool over...they drop their club, shrug their shoulders, etc.

I broke an ankle (left - like jag) when I was about 30 years younger, and thought  that I would never return to the same level of ability that I once had. Took a long year and a half before I broke par again...but, I realized through the journey that I was trying to define who I was by what I scored...and didn't like that one bit. Because I was much more than that.

I'm sure that you, too, are more than just your score, and in the long run....when all the cards are played, and the candles are burned to their bottoms...your scores won't much matter.

You have bested my best score by 1 stroke (had a 64 once in a pro-am) but I don't try to re-create that moment anymore. And, to tell the truth, I was playing with a couple of the pros that I grew up watching as a caddy, envying their games. When the day was done, and I had actually beat them, rather than a feeling of elation, I was actually kind of disappointed, because I had beaten my "idols", but what did that really mean?

i guess what I'm saying is that maturing enough to enjoy the game no matter how well you strike it or score....is probably the best way to measure success. (Funny, the line from "Caddyshack" just hit my mind...how do you measure your self against other golfers...height????)

Anyway.....today, if/when I'm lucky enough to get out on the course, I take joy in seeing nature manicured and refined by the touch of a good superintendent....I enjoy getting in a nice, clean cart....and, the fellowship of others who enjoy and respect the course and game as much as I do.

So, I see your point...but, the rhetorical question is this: What does it all really matter in the bigger picture???

I don't enjoy watching NFL football on TV....so, I just don't do it. If golf is no longer enjoyable....take a break, and when (if) you return to it, you should find your focus changing a bit.

Take a page from the guys on the Sr Tour - they are just as competitive, but they aren't as stressed out as when they played on the regular tour, I promise.

Good luck & if you ever feel the need to talk it through, PM me for a time to discuss.
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#9 bazinky


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 07:38 AM

The toughest part for me as I got better was that my rounds more often became defined more by whether I was able to avoid hitting bad shots, as opposed to getting excited over hitting good ones.

I could see this starting to affect my attitude if I was playing more frequently. Being a working stiff with a kid has the downside of limiting my golf, but it has also helps me keep my perspective and I still get excited every chance I get to play.

In the OP's case, I think he has it tougher than most from a mental perspective due to being so streaky. I'm the classic steady eddy, so once I get in the season, I usually don't see such huge swings in scores. That said, I know from experience (due to some swing issues a while ago) it gets REALLY tough to keep perspective as low handicap golfer when you are seeing 10+ strokes difference between rounds.
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#10 MrJones


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 07:50 AM

I have a hard time mentally enjoying some rounds as I improve because it's becoming easier to see and remember the few really simple shots I screwed up that cost me much better rounds. I had a round this weekend that ended in a good score for me but I deep lipped 5 putts. "What if those had just dropped? What if just half of those had dropped?" I'll let those types of thoughts really get to me. Nothing wears on me as bad as a few really bad chips that cost me a double these days.

I've found though when I go out and play non-money matches and just play with the game I've got, I play better. But with that comes a lack of focus that also sometimes leads to a few bad shots. Seems like I need a mix of both care and no care.

View PostJagpilotohio, on 26 September 2017 - 11:24 PM, said:

So the long and short of it for me, is that I'm grateful im still playing, but a certain part of my brain is really angry that I can't perform like I used to.  I fully understand that I SHOULD be happy to go out and post a mid 70's round and occasionally break par,,...but I'm just not.  I find myself furious on the course at times, cursing and being an a$$hole, and it deeply bothers me. Part of me just can't let go of how I used to play. I'm trying really, really hard to be ok with the reality of it all,..but some days I just really can't help being furious about it.

I understand how you feel.

Before I got back into golf, I was a basketball playing fool. I was good and a lot more athletic. These days I try and play with my kids and I will leave depressed with how much my skills have deteriorated. I have lost a significant amount of touch and an even larger amount of vertical leap. I might as well have a wooden left arm with a hook on the end now. My mind tries to do things my body isn't capable of anymore. I don't get angry but it's absolutely depressing to play that way.

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#11 Petunia Sprinkle

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 07:57 AM

augustgolf wrote - "...but, I realized through the journey that I was trying to define who I was by what I scored..."

Leonard Bernstein once said that you do your best work when you're so caught up in what you're doing, you completely forget about yourself. "A complete erasure of ego" he called it.
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#12 HatsForBats


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:14 AM

I think its a fairly normal reaction for any player that has worked hard to improve. Now that you realize what is happening take the step back and work on improving your attitude. I know someone who was so obsessed with getting to scratch that it started taking over their life. Eventually he stepped back and stopped obsessing so much and now enjoys playing much more.


#13 clp34vmp


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:31 AM

Great post - I know exactly how you feel. I'd been playing golf for a long time, but it was only about 8 years or so ago that I really started to try to practice more and get better at it. I was probably around a 13 then and through a lot of ups and downs have whittled myself down to an 8. Generally I'm pretty happy with my progress, but I would concur that the frustrations along the way have often seemed to far outweigh the positive feelings. I also often don't care for how I act on the course when things aren't going well. i try to tell myself that I am in no way a great golfer, that I'm not playing this sport to earn a living, and that the purpose of being out there is for my enjoyment. Sometimes it is hard to remember those things in the moment, however.


#14 Andrew Bond of Glencoe

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:57 AM

I wish I could say my attitude has changed over the past couple of rounds- it has,  but I have played very well so it's hard to be mad when you are scoring well.

It's a work in progress and really won't know where I am mentally, until I struggle again.

Oddly enough I found my rhythm again on one of the hardest golf courses in the world---Oakmont. I went into the round with the idea that I wanted to break 90 as I was told the course could host a US Open any given day of the week. On the front nine I missed only one green, on the back 4 greens and ended up with a 76 with 5 three putts.
In a weird way I accepted the idea that I could play bad and somehow that released me to play well. Not sure if that makes sense.


#15 disco111


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:08 AM

Be careful..................you could be on the verge of becoming a club ho, for that is the next step when you / I get mad - annoyed with the game. We look at an outside reference that can be changed and that always leads to, "it might be the clubs fault" ..........................But as the most interesting man in the world has said..........."Stay thirsty my friend"...... :pimp:


#16 MidwestGolfBum


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:10 AM

I have gotten to that point on several different occasions just this year. I will go through streaks of hitting the ball extremely well, putting up good scores, and then it's like I forget how to play. As a guy who goes from being anywhere from a 0-2 cap these days depending on how much time I get to play and practice at any given time, I have learned that sometimes I have to just take a step back and walk away for a while.

Having looked at my trend over the past 12ish months, I have seen that when I get more stressed out with work related things at the end of a quarter (I'm in sales), my golf game suffers because I just don't have the time or metal capacity to make it all work well. Given I would rather be sure that I can put food on my table and continue to pay my employees, I happily take a step back from golf at these times and think a little more about why I go out there. I know I'm not ever going to make a living at this game so I remind myself that I just want to go out there, beat my buddies out of some beer money and bragging rights so we can all have a good laugh about it at the end of the day. A tournament win isn't going to change my life in any way either so I just go out there to compete against everybody else playing and try to put up the best score I can. Some days it's good, some days it's bad, but in the end, I have learned to put golf in the category of "entertainment" and not worry about it so much.

Putting things in perspective as to why you play and what you play for has helped me to not really think so much about what I'm doing over the course of an entire round vs just going and hitting shots. This kind of mentality has very much helped me not get down on my self or my game as much over the past month or so now and I'm enjoying it again. Hopefully you are able to find a way to get back into the "golf is fun/entertaining" attitude.
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#17 doglover72


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:48 AM

This is a great post and I have the same issues

I did get to scratch and now anything over par feels like a let doen

Edited by doglover72, 27 September 2017 - 10:50 AM.


#18 Sean2


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:50 AM

I know how you feel. I now have a certain level of expectation, and when I don't reach that level it's...annoying.
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#19 wmblake2000


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:51 AM

It dawned on me along the way that I had two goals with golf - to enjoy and to perform. With this in mind it shaped and continues to shape how I approach the game. It goes deeper than just golf - I'm trying to do this in my life. Golf is just a core practice for working on this.
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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:51 AM


I am currently a 2 handicap and when I think about it, the better I have become at the game the less I tend to enjoy it.

This is me.

Every mistake is agony, as it draws me further and further from my goal of lowering my scores and having the results to prove I am indeed becoming a better player.

At this point, shooting 79 anywhere is enough to make me want to quit the game.

(Of course, I soldier on because I am hopelessly addicted and because I know I'll achieve my goals at some point. That said, golf is not enjoyable—it's stressful as hell, mostly because I am not good enough to cover for my mistakes 99.4% of the time.)

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#21 golfgirlrobin


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 11:56 AM

It's a tough balance.  It's my competitiveness that gets me working hard enough to improve, but it's my competitiveness that can crater my attitude when I'm not playing well.  

I'm working hard at taking the long view of my game by seeing getting into bad situations as opportunities to practice getting out of them.  If I see them as a different form of practice, it doesn't drag me down the same way.  

It's hard, though. Playing badly just generally sucks and it's hard to convince yourself that it's still fun.
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#22 jdl



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 12:42 PM

Getting better is something I've always liked about the game and when you hit a plateau it's frustrating. And at some point you're going to reach the point where it's much more difficult to improve. Along with that is the realization that perhaps you could continue to improve, but it might require a significantly greater amount of effort with lessons, practice, etc.


#23 pappaf2


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 01:41 PM

Fred Shoemaker of Extraordinary Golf said in an interview that the happiest male golfers are 12 handicaps.



Here’s a funny aside: I did a workshop in England last year and met this guy who did a study on golf and happiness. And he determined that the happiest golfers were the people who had a 12 handicap. The people who go lower than that feel anxiety and the people who go higher feel like they’re no good. So whatever you do, don’t get below a 12!


(quote listed above is not in this podcast link)

Edited by pappaf2, 27 September 2017 - 01:49 PM.

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#24 KC13



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 02:26 PM

I think most serious golfers who put the time and effort towards the game can relate (been there myself many times).  When the round is going bad and I start to realize my game is taking a s**t, I tear up my scorecard and focus on one hole at a time.  I end up playing well and wishing I kept my scorecard and composed myself.  One time I tossed my scorecard and my buddy kept my score unbeknownst to me and said I finished the last 15 holes +4.  I did however start off the first 3 holes, triple bogey, bogey, triple bogey....its all in the head.  Beautiful game we play!
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#25 Barfolomew



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 03:43 PM

Lose those expectations....do your best and be cool with results.  If you suck on a shot own it as matter of a fact but no point getting pissed cause that aint no fun and hurts your game

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#26 alittleoverpar


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 04:10 PM

Well, I haven't made it to a 2 yet, but I understand your frustration.  I too have a fair amount of inconsistency between rounds.  When I play well I play really well and when I don't......well, I don't.  I've learned to recognize when I'm having an off day and I've been able to accept that fact without getting upset.  Interestingly, when I'm able to accept my off rounds they often end up turning into good rounds.  Everyone handles it differently, I just try to remind myself that I play golf for enjoyment and not for a living.....not that I could live off of my game.... :cheesy:
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#27 gretch


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Posted 27 September 2017 - 04:31 PM

I do not think limiting or losing expectations is possible or healthy if you are competing, but you can manage them in a healthy way.  The single biggest improvement I have made in the last couple years is that I have 99% succeeded in eliminating any emotional attachment to the last shot, and always going to the next shot with a fresh outlook and determination for the shot at hand regardless of what got me there.

It does wonders for the enjoyment of the game even on the worst of days, and(un)surprisingly allows you to make some comebacks that wouldn't be possible if you cannot do this.


#28 kozubs



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:47 PM

I started a similar post last year.  This year I stopped pounding so many balls at the range and just play. No warm up even.  Swing a couple clubs and tee off. Because of this I have no expectations and am having way more fun but still shooting about the same.


#29 lutomrSC



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Posted 28 September 2017 - 07:48 AM

I think I've hit the same mental block this year. For the past few seasons I've been playing a lot of tournaments (local, state, and attempting to qualify for USGA). I've been a +3-4 for the past couple years and had a lot of close calls in tournaments and mostly played in the final group in the majority of my them. However for some reason this year, I've really not been enjoying it at all. The level of expectation I have is to win and I take no joy from finishing second, third, or a top ten. Whenever I come back from a tournament people ask how it went and I usually give the same few lines and they say thats a great showing. But for me it isn't. Golf is a tough sport because there is only 1 winner out of a 100+ competitors, a times the odds feel like the lotto. Its gotten to the point that I don't really even enjoy practicing, I feel like I just should be at home with my kid and not on the course anymore. I also go through the mental debate of what am I really accomplishing? No one cares about lutomrSC wining a state mid am, or county am. What's all this for? Sorry if that's not really giving any guidance but it's the same for others is what I'm getting at.


#30 suprfli6



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Posted 28 September 2017 - 08:57 AM

View PostBarfolomew, on 27 September 2017 - 03:43 PM, said:

Lose those expectations....do your best and be cool with results.  If you suck on a shot own it as matter of a fact but no point getting pissed cause that aint no fun and hurts your game
This is how I approach it. I get annoyed when I hit a bad shot but do my best to forget about it and move on to the next. Even on days where I play poorly I still have a good time even though I know my score should have been better. A few guys I play with will hit one or two bad shots and be in a bad mood the entire rest of the round as a result and it just sucks the fun right out of the game for them.

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