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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda



I suspect I am like many other golfers after a round.  We look at the scorecard and begin to analyze our round with a pair of rose-tinted glasses.  “If I would have just …”  If I could have …”  I should have …”  It is fun imagining how making better club selections, being more conservative/aggressive and taking a bit more time over that putt would-could-should have resulted in a score several shots better.

Perhaps this exercise is why we often over value the “mental game” versus the physical aspects of golf.  We assign many bad results to faulty thinking.  The truth of the matter is, at least for me, that the thinking and planning is often fine; it is usually the execution that is sorely lacking.

A good example was from my round last Saturday.  Despite a bad break earlier in the round that resulted in a double, I stood on the 15th tee at level par.  I was playing extremely well when one considers that I am an 8-10 handicapper. The 15th has OB all down the left side and the fairway slopes considerably to the left.  I told myself to keep it right since the right rough is not a bad place to hit from and then promptly duck hooked my tee shot OB.  Naturally, my 3rd shot was long, straight and ended up in the center of the fairway. My plan was fine, I just didn’t execute.

Of course, my “analysis” after the round indicated that I should have hit my tee shot on #15 like my second effort, making a 4 instead of a 6.  I also missed a handful of 5-10 footers for birdie that could have gone in.  Finally, but for a bad bounce on a cart path that put me into the edge of a penalty area, I would not have lost a stroke or two on #6.  After all the analytics, if I would have concentrated a bit more, I could have saved several strokes here and there, and I should have shot 69 instead of 74.

In truth, I played about as well as I can Saturday.  Yes, a few shots escaped me, but I did so many things right.  Still, in my dreams I coulda shot 69!


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"WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA" is language used by those who didn't...a phrase my old high school baseball coach used to say. 


But yeah I agree with your premise...we often think we could just drop a few just like that in our post round analysis if we "only do this". We con ourselves. There is a good thread around here on that. 

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While enjoying a post-round beverage...a friend of mine said

"Man, those three 3-putts really cost me."  To which I replied

"Not nearly as much as the fifteen 2-putts."

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Typically, I accept that my bad tee shots/approach/chips are what they are. What I tend to not accept is 3 putts where the 2nd putt was well within range that I shouldn't miss. Long range putts I accept as just as likely to be a 3 putt as a 2 putt though. So really, when I walk off the course I typically only think of those 2 or 3 really short putts that didn't go in as missed opportunities. Either way, I scored what I did and got what I deserve. Still, it is fun to look back and say "if only".

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I agree completely.  The funny thing is, we never look back and say "I had no right to make that 50-footer on the second hole", or "I'll never chip one in from THERE again!"  I know I've never said "I shot 75, but it really should have been 80".  We take those for granted as well-deserved good results from improbable locations.

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12 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I agree completely.  The funny thing is, we never look back and say "I had no right to make that 50-footer on the second hole", or "I'll never chip one in from THERE again!"  I know I've never said "I shot 75, but it really should have been 80".  We take those for granted as well-deserved good results from improbable locations.

I don't know, I've told myself I should have shot worse than I did many times. But then, I tend to be hard on myself.

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15 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I agree completely.  The funny thing is, we never look back and say "I had no right to make that 50-footer on the second hole", or "I'll never chip one in from THERE again!"  I know I've never said "I shot 75, but it really should have been 80".  We take those for granted as well-deserved good results from improbable locations.

You are correct, sir!

Although, the first time I ever broke 80, I made a hole in one on the 5th and shot 78. I always kind of felt like I still hadn't broken 80. After all, without that 1 in a million shot I SHOULD have carded at least an 80, possibly higher being as the hole in one came on a hole that was particularly difficult for me. (To that point, I'd never even birdied it.) 

I ended up braking 80 again a couple weeks later. I felt that was more legitimate, if that makes any sense? 

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Good point about the mental game and one of the many ways in which we con ourselves related to that.

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@bkuehn1952, great post. 

Yeah, that kinda cognitive dissonance affects most golfers to a varying degree. Some blame, some explain away and then there are some that blatantly deny any ownership of a particularly poor day on the course.

A good friend of mine is fairly streaky - I guess you can say that about most weekenders like myself but his worst is 20+ shots than his best. He always says something at the end of a bad (for him) round, shooting let's say 104 - "yeah tough day, but we all know I'm an eighties shooter". Of course he does shoot in the low eighties on occasion so it's not an entirely a lie but we all patronize the shit out of him and it's funny how it seems to make him feel better.. lol!     

Edited by GolfLug
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I think you only can control what you can control. You hit a bad shot, it happened and you move on. 

Recently I became more accepting or quickly moved on from bad shots if I know that I did what I should. But I will be mad if it was the decision making, the messed up shot routine etc things that you can control.

And if there is woulda coulda I would always take that kind of decisions back, not the shots that missed the green from 120 yards because I know it happens even with the pros. 

Long story short I think you should still reflex back and learn from your mistakes and the move on. 

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I'm so guilty of this.  It's how I keep myself motivated.  This year, in particular, I've played extremely poorly.  A lack of time has led to a lack of practice which has led to a lack of scoring.  Going from where I was this time last year (low-to-mid 80's) to where I am currently (low 90's) is frustrating.  

I look back at my scorecard and tell myself that I'm a little bit of practice from getting back to where I was.  My game from 50 yards and in is G-O-N-E.  I'm back to ball-first contact but now I'm leaving everything short because it checks up so quickly or I'm thinning the ball over the green.  Instead of getting up & down 30% of the time from 50 yards and in like I was last year... I'm getting up & down about 15% of the time.  

That leads to me sitting in the car thinking about why my scores are 5-10 strokes higher.

If I woulda hit those pitch shots closer than 25 feet on the 12 holes I missed the green in regulation... I coulda made those putts... which shoulda translated to an 83 instead of a 90.  

In reality... if I woulda put some more time in on the range for a few days leading up to my round... I coulda hit more than 6 greens in regulation... so I shoulda done that instead of sitting on my couch.



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