How to evaluate a rough day at the course

One thing that always seems to hold true with golf is that there are going to be really good days, and days that are just off.  Sometimes you will hit it off the center of the face and be filled with excitement, and other times you look up and see the ball snapping dead left.  It’s so difficult to play a sport that gives you such specific feedback in terms of what you see, feel and ultimately, add up on the scorecard.


So how do you walk away from a tough round and properly evaluate it?

Here are a few of my keys to taking an honest look at a practice session or round of golf and using that information to get better:

  • Wait at least an hour before talking about it.  Get some distance from the situation and let your mind go to a different place.  There is plenty of time to evaluate, why do it in the heat of the moment.
  • When you do look back at it, start with what went well.  List out things you felt and saw, as well as shots that were ones to store in the memory bank.
  • If things did not go the way you had planned, ask yourself why?  And be honest with yourself.  Chances are it’s not your swing.  And if your answer in any way involves blaming the weather, your playing partners or something that was frankly out of your control, just stop.  Take ownership, the only thing you can control on the golf course and in life is how you react to your surroundings.
  • Now ask yourself what you need to do to redirect in a positive way.  Negative thoughts have a way of creeping in and taking over.  Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you’ve experienced negative thoughts, but then replace them and move on.
  • Most importantly, remember that no matter what happened on the course, you are the same person.  Golf does not define who you are; be confident in yourself and realize that golf is just something you do.  When you wrap your self esteem up in it and let your scores and performance dictate how you interact with life, that can only lead to unhappiness.

To give you all an example from today, I played nine holes and frankly just hit it like garbage.  From the first swing, I felt like an unfolded lawn chair and completely out of rhythm.  At first I was upset because I’ve been striking the ball incredible the past 3 weeks.  But as the round progressed, I realized my body was not in a happy place today.  So after finishing the round, I went back to work and only just now took a hard look at what happened.  Here is what I learned today:

  1. I’ve been training really hard the past two weeks, and did not touch my clubs the past 9 days.  As a golfer, it’s really important to keep swinging when making physical changes in the gym so that your motor patterns stay intact and develop along with your body.   I let the gym work outweigh my golf work.  Solution:  if the weather stays this way, I need to up my “golfish” exercises and also take more time each day to swing even if it’s just inside with whiffle balls.
  2. I forgot that aside from neglecting my movement patterns, I also took care of my barn for 5 days.  That involved breaking up iced over buckets, hauling hay, picking up manure and just pushing my body to the limit.  Even as I worked on Sunday, I could feel my forearms burning and my body saying “hey, you’re about to break me.”  Fatigue can play a huge role in how the body functions, and today I was definitely not rested.  Solution:  give yourself a day off!
  3. 4 hours post golf, my left foot hurts.  To me that signals that I slipped back into an old habit that results in putting pressure on a nerve between L5 and S1 in my back. That also means fatigue was present and playing a huge role in what I felt today.  Solution:  Spend some time working on hip and foot movement as well as stabilizing my lumbar this week.


What does this all mean?  No reason to head to the range and have a panic session, I just need to rest, recover and work on maintaining my swing patterns better on these weeks where golf just isn’t happening.  On the plus side, never at any point today did I beat myself up, say anything negative or make it unpleasant for those around me as a result of my poor play.  And, I did hit some great shots, including this one that has that wonderful sound I love so much 🙂

Happy Monday friends, see you tomorrow!


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