Golf – A Game Of Confidence
Golf can be a game of glory. When you hit that one great shot and everything feels perfect. The rest of the world and all your worries seem to float away as you basque in the pure joy of the moment. This instills confidence in our abilities and keeps us coming back for more, time and time again.
But us golfers tend to have selective memories! We can recall our best shots in a flash; where we hit it and even what club we were using at the time. But what about all the other times? While it’s true that one truly great shot can “bring you back”, it’s all too easy to overlook all the mediocre ones that came before and after.
In this blog I unpack what it means to be confident on the course and why your failures can be just as much a blessing as your epic wins.
A Lesson For A Pro
Back in 2014 Billy Horschel won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, scoring the $10 million bonus in the FedEx Cup. This lucrative hot streak was no doubt a welcome experience, especially considering that the week before he hit one of the worst shots possible under extreme pressure. At the Deutsche Bank Championship he lost by 2 after chunking a 6-iron into a hazard.
Horschel was quick to dismiss his defeat as bad luck, claiming it was "just a really bad swing at the wrong time". After his glorious wins in the following weeks, he didn’t see the point in dwelling on it.
A few years later, however, Billy committed another catastrophic, tournament ending blunder; missing a two-foot putt in the RSM classic. This time around, instead of writing the experience off as bad luck, he revisited the sequence and reflected on why it had happened. Horschel had rushed through his routine and kept the clubface open at impact due to a weak left hand. A crucial mistake, but at least he understood why. "It's a tough way to learn something, but I learned it," he said.
This case study highlights two distinct scenarios on how people handle losing. One where they gloss over their worst moments and another where they take a closer look at why.
Embracing Failure - An Opportunity For Growth
In golf, as in life, a lot can be gained when we lose. In everything from sports to politics our greatest mistakes can be invaluable lessons in how to be better.
We often shy away from addressing the not-so-good shots in favour of celebrating the amazing ones but actually, we can learn more from understanding what we did wrong than what we did right!
This in turn makes us better players and therefore more confident when we pick up a club. And we all know that confidence is an essential part of becoming a better player.
"Confidence is the most important single factor in this game"
This famous quote from golfing legend Jack Nicklaus is undeniably true. But even Nicklaus says confidence has little value if it means suppressing the most valuable information.
"Somebody saying you've got to always be positive and eliminate all the other things in your mind and then hit a shot sounds good, but it isn't an ideal approach," Nicklaus states. "The realm of hitting a golf shot to me is, to be able to stand up knowing the shot I want to hit and knowing the problems I've had so I can then be positive about playing that shot. I want to know all the factors. I want to know all the negatives so I can create a positive."
What Nicklaus describes here is the concept of healthy self-doubt, in which we're aware of our limitations and subsequently create a game plan to counter them.
As Billy Horschel learned (the hard way) there is great value in knowing exactly what holds us back.
So while we all want to be the best players we can possibly be, it’s only by looking in the mirror and digging deep into our failures that we become truly great at golf.
If you’re keen to learn more about where you might be going wrong, please get in touch and book a lesson. I’ll help you identify your strengths AND your weaknesses so you can address your deficiencies and play a better game every time.