This is what has been called in the Far East the state of satori, where the individual feels everything but thinks nothing during performance such as martial arts.
The buzz words around performance psychology these days is all around making sure the process prior to performance and during performance is as close to perfect and well thought out as possible. All of this really means if you take care of what’s in front of you and execute excellence every time, the outcome will be excellent too. Excellence in these terms is defined as doing the very best with what you have at the moment.
If you adhere to these simple terms and execute excellence every time, then the product of your efforts will be, by definition, the very best that you could do which in golf is the most sought after result there is.
There is a prayer which has been used or adopted by the organisation Alcoholics Anonymous which focuses on the day by day principle where if you take care of one day and all the moments within it, that’s all you can do, then after a period of time the days become weeks and the weeks become months and so on.
The prayer goes, “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I appreciate this might be appearing a little deep and meaningful, with a touch of, “does Neil have a problem?” But I will stay in my lane, make this relevant as far as golf is concerned and leave the wider reaching topics to somebody far more qualified than myself.
Regarding the first sentence of the prayer where we’re asked to except the things we cannot change, I see a huge relevance in golf when a player reacts badly to a golf shot. What’s the point? You can’t change what just happened, tying back to the original point if you executed excellence you wouldn’t be upset, or if you did your best that’s all you can do. Yet scanning across the golf course I can see on a minute by minute basis players being very upset with individual golf shots and then carrying the emotion along the fairway to the next shot which is invariably another bad one.
Yet if the player was able to accept that they did their best, with what they had at that moment, then they should be content. However, having a clear and accurate understanding about what they are capable of doing on a minute by minute or hour by hour basis is where sometimes the problem lies. The player could be accurately accused of trying to hit a golf shot beyond their capability, executing the shot knowing that they only had 0 percent chance of success and then getting upset that they didn’t get their desired, unrealistic outcome.
If you were to look back to your last round of golf did you try and take on a shot which you are poorly prepared for, even when you were over the shot you had doubts and then when you hit the shot it didn’t come off? Tie that back into the first sentence of the prayer - can you honestly say that you accepted the things that you cannot change, if you tried to take on the shot you tried to change your game into something it isn’t.
I find those three simple sentences really apply to a lot of areas. Next week we will touch on the second sentence which will be around having the courage to change the things we can, there might be a couple of references to maybe taking on a little bit more practice and lessons, but I will do my best to make it as relevant to your golf game as possible.
Until next week...