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Imposter Syndrome With Improving Golf Ability?


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Over the past year, my index has dropped about 6 strokes from 16.5 to 10.4. Recently, the concepts and priority pieces from lessons have really started clicking, and my ball striking has improved. I never conceived that I would even get to this point, but I also feel like there is still plenty of room for growth/improvement.

However, there is still some self doubt in the back of my mind, that this improvement is just the result of a "hot streak", or luck/coincidence and that maybe it's not sustainable. Obviously, even the best golfers will have peaks and valleys in their performance, and have skill progression/regression, and if I'm being rational, I trust that the results are due to my effort in lessons/practice, but the feeling is hard to shake sometimes (especially after a bad shot, etc.).

I'm wondering if anyone else has felt this in their golf learning process, and at what point the self doubt went away, and how you managed to suppress it.

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3 minutes ago, Darkfrog said:

 

I'm wondering if anyone else has felt this in their golf learning process, and at what point the self doubt went away, and how you managed to suppress it.

You will only find it to be real when you decide that you'd rather not play golf and preserve what you believe to be a flattering handicap than go and play the game and shoot whatever.

Your handicap evolves over dozens or hundreds of rounds, not a few great rounds in succession.

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22 minutes ago, Shorty said:

You will only find it to be real when you decide that you'd rather not play golf and preserve what you believe to be a flattering handicap than go and play the game and shoot whatever.

Your handicap evolves over dozens or hundreds of rounds, not a few great rounds in succession.

Good point. Honestly I don't care what my handicap is as it relates to enjoying golf. I do use it to set goals for myself, and once a year to enter a local amateur tournament. I love being out on the course, regardless of how well I happen to be playing, and that's the bigger picture here.

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That reminds me, my handicap has been going up, I should update my TST profile (I'll do that after posting this).

About two years ago, I played a course I like with some friends from the silver tees (5920/68.0/119).  I shot an 82.  A week or two later (it might have been a few more weeks, I can look it up if anyone really cares), I broke 80 for the first time (in a tournament, from the blue tees, different course), shooting a 77.  I sort of knew where I stood around the 17th or 18th tee -- not exactly, but I knew I was playing well.  It all felt like I had been there before, and I think shooting a low (for me) round from more forward tees helped with that feeling.

I similarly like to brag I didn't realize I was going to break 100 or 90 during those rounds, but my first score below those markings were 95 and 87, respectively.   My first time shooting even for nine holes, I knew I was playing well but I hadn't put together that my only bogey on the nine had followed a birdie until I was adding up my score at the end (this was also during a tournament).

I guess what I'm saying is, act like you've been there before, and find a way to have been there before.  You've done it before, why can't you do it again?

And now, I will go back to hoping that I can break 90 again one of these days... 🙂 

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12 hours ago, Darkfrog said:

Over the past year, my index has dropped about 6 strokes from 16.5 to 10.4. Recently, the concepts and priority pieces from lessons have really started clicking, and my ball striking has improved. I never conceived that I would even get to this point, but I also feel like there is still plenty of room for growth/improvement.

However, there is still some self doubt in the back of my mind, that this improvement is just the result of a "hot streak", or luck/coincidence and that maybe it's not sustainable. Obviously, even the best golfers will have peaks and valleys in their performance, and have skill progression/regression, and if I'm being rational, I trust that the results are due to my effort in lessons/practice, but the feeling is hard to shake sometimes (especially after a bad shot, etc.).

I'm wondering if anyone else has felt this in their golf learning process, and at what point the self doubt went away, and how you managed to suppress it.

Oh Darkfrog,

You are singing my song, brother. 

I've been playing golf since 1993. My first golf clubs were a boxed set I bought the day of my first time playing in the company I worked for's golf league. 

Over the course of my golfing life, my handicap has been anywhere from about 32 to 7. I'm not a naturally athletic person with great timing and balance. I know there are tons of people who can roll out of bed, and shoot a lower score than me the first time they walk on a golf course. That's not me. Every time I reach a new low for handicap, I have to keep working on it otherwise it will slip away. 

In 1999 I had my handicap down to a 14... By 2002, I lost it and was back up to low 20's. 
Got a new coach in 2002, worked hard and played most of the middle 2000's hovering around a 10. 

2009, lost my coach (My wife and I moved away). By 2012 I was back up to 28. I could still occasionally hit good shots though. I made my second hole in one in 2012 (shot 88 that day). 

2014, I was a mess. I got a new coach that I really liked. He and I worked me down to around a 7 handicap by 2017. Late in 2017 I was playing the best golf of my life. For what ever reason I decided to "cheat on" my coach. (Just kidding, I was just looking to take the next step.) The next step became a huge backward step. In 2020, I shot 1 over for the front nine on my course VLOG. It was a bit fluky but all good. By mid 2020, I wasn't completely sure I should ever play golf again. It all went to Hell in a hand-cart. 

Now, I feel like I'm back. I've been working with my coach again. We've been working a very specific plan. (See my MySwing thread if you want more information). Basically, I'm evaluating my progress each month and building a specific practice plan to work on those problems each month. I'm hitting the ball really well right now. Short game is sloppy and sort of a mess, but that's pretty easy to get back under control. I'm a 14ish right now, but I can see the light at the end of the single digit tunnel again. 

So, back to your point. I have played great golf in my life. I've also played golf like an orangutan performing brain surgery with a chainsaw. The bad news is I know if I don't work on my game it will deteriorate. I'm not a natural athlete. I good news is I know if I work on my game it will improve. I've done it many times before. 

Sorry about the long post. But this thread really speaks to my golfing life. 

13 hours ago, Darkfrog said:

I'm wondering if anyone else has felt this in their golf learning process, and at what point the self doubt went away, and how you managed to suppress it.

Yes, I've felt it. 
For me, I find more quality practice makes more confidence. 
 

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I feel it when I am on the course, line up for a shot...and realize I am playing in fear of the 100 yard slice I used to have that have not had in years. When I miss now it is a reasonable miss.

 

Or when I land in an awkward spot where say...I have to go over a small pond or bunker to a short side green and think "I have to get the ball in the air to get over the hazard and stop on or near the green" and realize...I have that in my bag. 

 

I no longer fear the mis-hit or anticipate the horrific shot that had me a huge handicap but yeah...sometimes I forget that yes, I can play a little bit now. I am not going to make anyone think I am PGA...I am a very mediocre golfer and so the doubt can creep in and I think I will suddenly revert back to the hacker I was five years ago.

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On 4/5/2021 at 2:47 PM, Shindig said:

I guess what I'm saying is, act like you've been there before, and find a way to have been there before.  You've done it before, why can't you do it again?

One thing I've done for the past 2-3 years is not add up my score on during a round. I just write the number down at the end of each hole. That way I'm not going into the last few holes with any thoughts about achieving a scoring milestone. I still know if I am having a good, okay, or bad round, and this kind of keeps me from having tunnel vision and putting pressure on myself, and I can just hit the golf ball without excessive, self-afflicted pressure. I know I should just learn to enjoy the pressure, but I'm not quite there yet.

On 4/6/2021 at 2:51 AM, ChetlovesMer said:

For me, I find more quality practice makes more confidence. 

For sure, the fact that I take lessons, and I have committed to regular, deliberate practice gives me confidence that whatever improvements I see on the course are not just random chance. But every once in awhile there's a shank, or a huge block slice, that reminds me of an older version of my game, and I have doubts.

On 4/6/2021 at 1:37 PM, darthweasel said:

When I miss now it is a reasonable miss.

I would say this is the biggest change in my game, but I still have remembrance of big, penalizing misses. I still have misses, but usually they are in play, and in spots where decent recovery is possible, maybe even a GIR or nGIR. And when my misses are not in good spots, I've learned to have the golfing mind and enough skill to play the next shot to a spot to a good spot.

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On 4/5/2021 at 4:44 PM, Darkfrog said:

I'm wondering if anyone else has felt this in their golf learning process, and at what point the self doubt went away, and how you managed to suppress it.

In my own golfing progression, each time I hit a new handicap low, a couple of strokes or so, it felt like it was uncharted territory.  "I'm not this good, I can't keep this up".  And as cyclical things always do, I didn't keep it up, my handicap went up some.  But the NEXT time I got to that same level, I KNEW I was good enough, because it had happened before.  

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