Prestwick St Nicholas
Billy is a past champion at his own sport. Winning the national title six times, with numerous other titles to boot. But aren’t motor bikes very different from golf clubs?
“I play golf to enjoy it and its relaxing, a terrific change from the hurly burly of my track racing in the past”, says Billy.
Having had first hand experience of Billy and his golf game, this is a mystifying statement. In light of, the frustration he shows, anger he vents, the impatient endless questions about his swing he asks, temper he displays, his continual drive to improve and the disappointment he can’t hide when falling short of his goals, whilst playing this “relaxing” game. Billy’s mental state is in question. Oh he’s completely sane, yet when I asked him why he plays golf, the reply is “for leisure”. Really!
bunker at Prestwick St Nicholas
You see, Billy has not admitted to himself why he plays golf. Let’s take Henry. Henry, who plays around seven or eight games a year, is faced with a hundred yard shot over a gorge. Almost predictably the ball finishes in said gorge. Henry releases his displeasure and flings his club away in anger. One of his playing partners approaches him. Looks at him dolefully and says (I must warn you that generally in such cases it is better to keep quiet, golfers don’t appreciate being confronted with what they already know) “Henry, to see you, you’d think you were able to play this game”. Henry stares back then breaks into a smile and duly into laughter. He had just discovered why he plays golf. The first question that has to be asked of a golfer is why do you play golf?
This appears, to many, a somewhat trite inquiry. The answer seems plain. Yet there is a stream of responses to this question. It may seem that as a leisure pursuit or pastime are obvious replies, they may be so, but they are not necessarily the right ones. How about some of these reasons. The social aspect,  as a medical encouragement of a healthy yet not overly strenuous pursuit, to get out of the house, the challenge, the competition, to promote business the exercise, to relax, enjoyment, pastime, hobby, an infrequent diversion, to facilitate another, as a change from what you normally participate in and there will be more. I have seen people play golf as if their lives depended on it, it was a good job it didn’t. I have looked on when golfers have fallen out through some indecipherable rule disagreement. Come across people who thought they were able to hit a thirty-yard left to right fade as required even though they only played half a dozen times a year. On all occasions they were left disappointed.

Logos on Tour at Musselburgh

So what is the key?
Honestly admit, or if you genuinely don’t know, ask someone who does, the reason why you play golf. Billy reckoned on enjoyment and relaxation, nothing could have been further from the truth. He played golf as he partook of his previous sporting venture, as a challenge and to become as good as he possibly could at it. It was only on the realisation of this did Billy make any progress. Strangely he found himself, becoming even tempered, not getting negatively angry but reacting positively to setbacks, more patient and he stopped repeatedly asking the same questions, instead finding answers. His entire mental approach took on an air of realism. It’s okay to play golf in a competitive vein! To see every round and shot as a challenge, if that’s how you feel about it, fine! Then adopt this into your game; don’t pretend you are playing for some other reason.
Henry discovered that “losing it” did not enhance golf for him. Instead he adopted that day when confronted so bravely, the attitude of someone who played golf as an infrequent diversion. His expectation level dropped and his golf  improved. Going round in 96 was now an acceptable score, whereas taking 95 previously would have been regarded as unsatisfactory. What of you then?

Beware golfers

Take ten minutes and dwell on your purpose in playing this weird and wonderful game. When you know your reason, then make that your attitude during the round. You will find that your tolerance level shall change to accommodate the new found approach.
If you are a social player then adopt a light-hearted demeanour.
If for healthy exercise, then don’t count your score and should someone else be doing so, don’t ask them what it is.
Should you feel coerced into participating on business grounds don’t take things to seriously, in case you beat the business acquaintance that you are hoping to conclude a deal with. If you are there to assist another who wants to play, then be a companion not an opponent.

Are you a competitor?
Then compete, don’t be embarrassed to try and improve.

Should golf to you be a leisure pursuit then proceed leisurely and don’t get your pulse racing unnecessarily. We golfers fail when our minds are tangled up. One minute we are out for a gentle afternoon’s friendly non-competitive golf game, then abruptly it turns into a full-scale war.
There is a clash of clear minded purpose.
A lose-lose predicament.
Wait a second you might say.
This is all a bit negative. I may want to play golf as an enjoyable pastime; even then I’d like to play as best as possible.
Going by your philosophy I can’t strive to get any better, so I need to accept the level I’m at and that be the end of it! No, no. This is the whole point. By accepting in your mind, attitude, outlook, use whatever term you will, your purpose in playing golf, then you shall play better.
Now there is no pulling in opposite directions going on within.
This frees your entire mind and enables you to express freedom in your play and, ultimately, greater enjoyment. In essence, we need to get a sense of reality.
Having accomplished that then you’ll get a greater fulfilment from your golf game. When the topic comes around of the mental side of the game you shall be able to turn around, why do you play golf?

To, why you do play golf.

Article written by Ken Revie

Ken Revie Logos Golf Ministries
Ken Revie, Logos Golf Ministries Chaplain to the European Tour