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Hey, guys, I just wanted to hear from some of you guys on how you manage to stay competitive while also managing your nerves and emotions. I absolutely love golf, but I also get wayyy to pissed off whenever things go wrong. It seems like the only time I can play golf and enjoy it is when I absolutely do not care about the outcome, but I love the idea of playing competitive golf. I'm signed up in my local amateur golf tour, and I really want to hear of some tactics you guys use to calm your nerves and be "mentally tough" so-to-speak. That is, how do you find the balance between wanting/expecting to play well and just having fun?

Thanks guys! 

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Golf for me has always been a game. The serious side of golf for me has always been the practice part of it. Once on the course, it is what it is. Good score, or poor score. It doesn't matter. I'm golfing. There are a million worse things in life than an errant ball flight, or a missed putt. 

Good golf shots are fun, and the bad ones are just a grin, and a head scratch for me. A "where did that come from" moment. I cannot be intimadated by anything golf related. It's just a game

I have lived through a few seious, scary situations. Frayed nerves, and emotions, under control, kept me alive. Anything after those events is cake, and ice cream for me. Nothing bothers me . 

Do I have a temper? Yeah, but never when it comes to games. I have seen folks destroy golf clubs. I've seen clubs thrown in ponds. I once saw a guy get so mad, he had to go to the ER in a heliocopter. Just because sliced a golf ball into a pond. I've seen golfers ruin a good day over slow play.

I quit watching pro golf on TV because of lost tempers. Sergio spitting in the cup was probably the last straw.

Golfers who lose their cool should probably take up another game as far I am concerned. 

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I'm different from both of you, in that I came to the game later then most at age 55. I've become increasingly addicted to it, to the point where I picked up and moved to Myrtle Beach. I loved the idea of being in a golf-centric area, where I could play year round. My relationship with the game has evolved into a sort of love/ hate type of thing. I love it, but I hate how I'm struggling to deal with my LOFT (many of you know this problem). I wish I could be like @Patch, and just enjoy golf for the wonderful game it is, but I'd be lying if I said I do. I let my last round determine my mood afterward, both good and bad. I was never the guy to throw clubs or act out when playing poorly, but Oh, if you could hear me talking to myself inside my head, you'd shake yours. It's very hard for me to play any game and just enjoy it for what it is. I always want to compete, and at 63, there are very few options besides golf where I can get that "fix". I'm not saying I don't take the time to enjoy the beauty of a course, or the good fortune to play with a large group of friends. As a matter of fact I love the laughter, teasing, and companionship as much as the game. But even with all that, I'm aware every second out there how I stand in a match, and exactly what my score is... 

Edited by GrandStranded
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2 hours ago, StripeIt said:

Hey, guys, I just wanted to hear from some of you guys on how you manage to stay competitive while also managing your nerves and emotions. I absolutely love golf, but I also get wayyy to pissed off whenever things go wrong. It seems like the only time I can play golf and enjoy it is when I absolutely do not care about the outcome, but I love the idea of playing competitive golf. I'm signed up in my local amateur golf tour, and I really want to hear of some tactics you guys use to calm your nerves and be "mentally tough" so-to-speak. That is, how do you find the balance between wanting/expecting to play well and just having fun?

Thanks guys! 

If I could give you one piece of advice, (after what I posted earlier about myself, you might not want it.) LOL When playing competitively, embrace the nerves. It's normal to feel butterflies when competing. You'll find this hard at first, but like anything else, the more you play in a Tournament setting, the more comfortable you'll become. Also, remember you're not the only one feeling those nerves. In the Am Tour events, you'll be playing in flighted fields, so just trust your game. You're as good as they are skill wise, just go out and beat them!

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When playing recreationally, it’s easy to forget that its a one shot game. When it comes to competition, I make sure I have my routine and thoughts for the day and I stick to it. Never think about the future of the round. A deviation does occur occasionally that will give you a miss. Then hopefully you forget the miss and come back to routine quickly.

As far as nerves go, you get used to them the more you play in competition. They never really go away on first hole. So my best advice? Accept that you will have nerves. Don’t fight them. Just stick to the routine, take a deep breath, and swing like you know you can.

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Genetics. Some people have a temper and can't control it, others are calm and cool in all situations. 

I have had anger management issues on the course but thru lots of hardwork I'd made major strides to not have a bad shot carry into next one. 

You'll have to find your own way to make peace with bad days or shots 

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8 hours ago, GrandStranded said:

I'm different from both of you, in that I came to the game later then most at age 55. I've become increasingly addicted to it, to the point where I picked up and moved to Myrtle Beach. I loved the idea of being in a golf-centric area, where I could play year round. My relationship with the game has evolved into a sort of love/ hate type of thing. I love it, but I hate how I'm struggling to deal with my LOFT (many of you know this problem). I wish I could be like @Patch, and just enjoy golf for the wonderful game it is, but I'd be lying if I said I do. I let my last round determine my mood afterward, both good and bad. I was never the guy to throw clubs or act out when playing poorly, but Oh, if you could hear me talking to myself inside my head, you'd shake yours. It's very hard for me to play any game and just enjoy it for what it is. I always want to compete, and at 63, there are very few options besides golf where I can get that "fix". I'm not saying I don't take the time to enjoy the beauty of a course, or the good fortune to play with a large group of friends. As a matter of fact I love the laughter, teasing, and companionship as much as the game. But even with all that, I'm aware every second out there how I stand in a match, and exactly what my score is... 

Nothing wrong with talking to yourself while on the course. I do that. I even answer myself . It's when I say "Huh?" that others around me get nervous.:whistle:

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Don'y take golf so seriously, just go out there and enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air, and get some exercise. Golf is  a love hate relationship, When it goes right we love it, and when our ball does not do what it is suppose to we hate it. It only takes one good shot in a bad round to bring us back. So just go out there and enjoy. :-D

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Something else that helps is to truly believe you are not the worst golfer on the course that day. I tell folks this all the time to help them with their struggles. 

I think alot of times it's not the poor shot it's self, but the embarrassment the golfer might feel for hitting that poor shot. They forget, or just don't know that every golfer who ever picked up a club, has hit every poor shot in the book at one time or another.

Playing golf can be very humbling. :beer:

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Years ago, when I was a (MUCH) younger man, an older guy said two things to me that have stuck: "You are a better golfer than you think you are" and "You'll be an even better golfer if you stop playing with so much fear". Kinda ticked me off at the time, but those ideas are in my head when I play today. Good topic! Thanks, -Marv

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On 3/31/2018 at 10:52 PM, Patch said:

Golf for me has always been a game. The serious side of golf for me has always been the practice part of it. Once on the course, it is what it is. Good score, or poor score. It doesn't matter. I'm golfing. There are a million worse things in life than an errant ball flight, or a missed putt. 

Good golf shots are fun, and the bad ones are just a grin, and a head scratch for me. A "where did that come from" moment. I cannot be intimadated by anything golf related. It's just a game

I have lived through a few seious, scary situations. Frayed nerves, and emotions, under control, kept me alive. Anything after those events is cake, and ice cream for me. Nothing bothers me . 

Do I have a temper? Yeah, but never when it comes to games. I have seen folks destroy golf clubs. I've seen clubs thrown in ponds. I once saw a guy get so mad, he had to go to the ER in a heliocopter. Just because sliced a golf ball into a pond. I've seen golfers ruin a good day over slow play.

I quit watching pro golf on TV because of lost tempers. Sergio spitting in the cup was probably the last straw.

Golfers who lose their cool should probably take up another game as far I am concerned. 

Some good thoughts, man. You're totally right about the part where you say that there are a million other (worse) things we could be doing besides playing golf. That's a truly eye-opening and humbling point because it's even a blessing and gift to have two working pairs of arms and legs to even play the game. Not to mention eyesight and hearing which are obviously important. It's just true that there are things to be grateful for that even allow us to play, so approaching the game with gratitude, or anything for that matter, could totally ease the nerves and emotions. 

 

The only question I have is what would you say to someone who golfs for their livelihood? I personally don't right now, but for those who play competitive golf-- there's a lot on the line. At that point, there's a level of dedication and control they need to have over themselves, even when there's a lot on the line. 

 

Thanks for your thoughts! 

On 4/1/2018 at 12:21 AM, GrandStranded said:

If I could give you one piece of advice, (after what I posted earlier about myself, you might not want it.) LOL When playing competitively, embrace the nerves. It's normal to feel butterflies when competing. You'll find this hard at first, but like anything else, the more you play in a Tournament setting, the more comfortable you'll become. Also, remember you're not the only one feeling those nerves. In the Am Tour events, you'll be playing in flighted fields, so just trust your game. You're as good as they are skill wise, just go out and beat them!

Thanks man! To be honest, I don't have as much of a hard time with nerves as I do with simply keeping my cool. I LOVE to compete and I don't super nervous that often for some reason. However, when things start to go south and I begin play poorly, let's just say that more often than I'm okay with, clubs are thrown and some cuss words are expelled out of my mouth. It's honestly embarrassing and ridiculous, but I'm trying to find the middle ground between caring about my score and playing competitive all the while just enjoying the game for the game and enjoying life in general. 

Thanks for the response! :)

On 4/1/2018 at 8:06 AM, phillyk said:

When playing recreationally, it’s easy to forget that its a one shot game. When it comes to competition, I make sure I have my routine and thoughts for the day and I stick to it. Never think about the future of the round. A deviation does occur occasionally that will give you a miss. Then hopefully you forget the miss and come back to routine quickly.

As far as nerves go, you get used to them the more you play in competition. They never really go away on first hole. So my best advice? Accept that you will have nerves. Don’t fight them. Just stick to the routine, take a deep breath, and swing like you know you can.

You bring up a SUPER good and important point when it comes to thinking about the future of a round. I always anticipate my score before the round is even over instead of just playing golf. I feel like reinforces expectations of my own performance that are super unrealistic and unhealthy. Plus, you kind of just miss out on the moment and the joy of actually taking every shot for what it's worth. 

On 4/1/2018 at 8:37 AM, shooter said:

Genetics. Some people have a temper and can't control it, others are calm and cool in all situations. 

I have had anger management issues on the course but thru lots of hardwork I'd made major strides to not have a bad shot carry into next one. 

You'll have to find your own way to make peace with bad days or shots 

What are methods you've used for yourself to help you make peace with the bad shots and bad days?

Thanks for the reply man! 

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On 4/5/2018 at 10:20 AM, The Hook Meister said:

Don'y take golf so seriously, just go out there and enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air, and get some exercise. Golf is  a love hate relationship, When it goes right we love it, and when our ball does not do what it is suppose to we hate it. It only takes one good shot in a bad round to bring us back. So just go out there and enjoy. :-D

Haha easier said than done but I agree. At the end of the day there's more to life than just golf. Thanks for the reminder, I appreciate it! :)

On 4/5/2018 at 10:58 PM, Patch said:

Something else that helps is to truly believe you are not the worst golfer on the course that day. I tell folks this all the time to help them with their struggles. 

I think alot of times it's not the poor shot it's self, but the embarrassment the golfer might feel for hitting that poor shot. They forget, or just don't know that every golfer who ever picked up a club, has hit every poor shot in the book at one time or another.

Playing golf can be very humbling. :beer:

This is very true! 

17 hours ago, MarvChamp said:

Years ago, when I was a (MUCH) younger man, an older guy said two things to me that have stuck: "You are a better golfer than you think you are" and "You'll be an even better golfer if you stop playing with so much fear". Kinda ticked me off at the time, but those ideas are in my head when I play today. Good topic! Thanks, -Marv

THIS is awesome. I wonder how much better I'd play if I played my game and trusted my abilities rather than being so afraid to fail all the time. Some of my best rounds were when I was relaxed and was just having fun with the game instead of trying so hard and being so tense. Thanks so much for this, man. 

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5 minutes ago, StripeIt said:

Some good thoughts, man. You're totally right about the part where you say that there are a million other (worse) things we could be doing besides playing golf. That's a truly eye-opening and humbling point because it's even a blessing and gift to have two working pairs of arms and legs to even play the game. Not to mention eyesight and hearing which are obviously important. It's just true that there are things to be grateful for that even allow us to play, so approaching the game with gratitude, or anything for that matter, could totally ease the nerves and emotions. 

 

The only question I have is what would you say to someone who golfs for their livelihood? I personally don't right now, but for those who play competitive golf-- there's a lot on the line. At that point, there's a level of dedication and control they need to have over themselves, even when there's a lot on the line. 

 

Thanks for your thoughts! 

Professionals at all levels need to play under control. Imo, when a pro loses control, it's going to cost them money. 

All pro golfers have bad tournaments at some point. The one's who keep their "cool" and grind it out, I would think would have the better pay days. 

If I were a caddy, and my pro golfer was getting close to a melt down, I'd tell him/her to relax, and to re-focus. Forget those last poor shots, and salvage what's left in front of them. If that didn't work, I'd stay out of their way, take their abuse, until they cooled off. Well, not too much abuse.

I think emotionally, there is not too much difference between the play for pay golfers, and the "serious" pay to play golfers. Low scores are so important to both. 

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On ‎3‎/‎31‎/‎2018 at 9:10 PM, StripeIt said:

Hey, guys, I just wanted to hear from some of you guys on how you manage to stay competitive while also managing your nerves and emotions. I absolutely love golf, but I also get wayyy to pissed off whenever things go wrong. It seems like the only time I can play golf and enjoy it is when I absolutely do not care about the outcome, but I love the idea of playing competitive golf. I'm signed up in my local amateur golf tour, and I really want to hear of some tactics you guys use to calm your nerves and be "mentally tough" so-to-speak. That is, how do you find the balance between wanting/expecting to play well and just having fun?

Thanks guys! 

I found that as I got older, the tendency to get frustrated and stress out about my game has waned.  I also remind myself that all golfers at all levels go in and out of "the groove" and to enjoy it more when you're in it and remember that the tide will turn when you're out of it.

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On 4/1/2018 at 7:06 AM, phillyk said:

When playing recreationally, it’s easy to forget that its a one shot game. When it comes to competition, I make sure I have my routine and thoughts for the day and I stick to it. Never think about the future of the round. A deviation does occur occasionally that will give you a miss. Then hopefully you forget the miss and come back to routine quickly.

I agree with @phillyk, the biggest thing that can help prevent nerves from affected you as much is just following your routine and sticking with one swing thought throughout your round. Depending on what I'm trying to do with my swing that thought will change from tournament to tournament, but during the round I avoid making any changes unless I find myself making some kind of large overcorrection (if I'm trying to feel my arms drop inside before starting the downswing and I start snap hooking the ball, I will adjust the feel that I'm looking to find to avoid that, but that's about the biggest type of change I'll make).

On 4/1/2018 at 7:06 AM, phillyk said:

As far as nerves go, you get used to them the more you play in competition. They never really go away on first hole. So my best advice? Accept that you will have nerves. Don’t fight them. Just stick to the routine, take a deep breath, and swing like you know you can.

As far as this goes, I have found a way to kind of minimize the negative portion of the nerves without trying to ignore them entirely. 

Next time you get excited, try and remember closely how you physically feel in the moment, and do the same when you're nervous. The physical sensations for the two emotions (at least to me) are more or less identical, with my mental state being the only thing that tells me whether or not I'm excited or nervous. I use that to frame my nerves as being excitement instead when I'm in a competition and it helps me anyways.

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I personally can't buy into the whole "I'm playing for fresh air and exercise" thing.  I am too competitive for that. Nor can I look at it from the standpoint of "it's just a game. " I look at controlling my emotions and anger from a competitive standpoint. I am going to get pissed when I hit a bad shot or make a stupid mistake, it's going to happen because I care about each and every shot I hit. That being said, I cannot let that irritation affect my next shot, so I have learned to work through it.

In the past I have thrown clubs, screamed, yelled, and acted ridiculous after bad shots. I have learned over the years that acting that way has done nothing to help me bounce back from a bad hole. So I just don't do it anymore, I have control of my emotions because I have to have control in order to be a competitive. So basically my competitive nature outweighs my anger.

One strategy I use after a bad shot is I repeat the phrase "bounce back" as I walk to my next shot. It calms me down and puts me back into a positive state of mind.

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When my game leaves me, it feels as if I'm lost and my head is floating 2 feet behind and above my body.  Each arm  moves and sends sensations to the brain, by way of my scrotum, rather than messages behind sent direcly from my brain to my arms.  I develop a deep hatred of everything, the hole I'm on, the universe, my partner's golf bag.  I try to hide it from my playing partners by going silent, avoiding eye contact and chewing on a Stitch headcover (leather has the best mouthfeel). Sometimes I make a great putt or flop despite all this going on and get it back together.  Other days I suffer through the rest of the round trying to get back to the clubhouse and get the hell outta there. I do not tell myself platitudes or think optimistic thoughts.  I embrace the rage, the failure and the desperate futility of it all.

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For me it's a matter of perspective.  My parents immigrated to the States from a country where politicians literally steal funds from the poor and a good percentage of the police is on the cartel payroll.  So I grew up thankful for anything I have.  Any day where I have the free time to play golf is a heck of a lot better than most in that country, or this country for that matter.  Don't get me wrong, I like to challenge myself, and I won't hesitate to murmur a "sonofabitch" if I hit a bad shot, but when there are people who aren't left with the time to play a round due to the 3 jobs they're working to feed their family, I can only get so upset.  I try to enjoy golf and life for what it is.

If you're signing up for amateur events, I'm assuming you've got game.  You have the ability to hit great shots.  If you hit a bad one, forget it, take a breath, and remember what you're capable of doing.  Stick to your routine and remember the next shot isn't a continuity of the last one.

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