What Are We Waiting For? Go For It!
Tom Dorsel wrote a recent article for the San Antonio-News about fear, aggression and golf. It was entitled, “Golf: The Mental Game,” and my only objection to its content was that he didn’t write it a million years ago, so that I could get over whatever I was trying to get over on the golf course.
In this article, Mr. Dorsel exhorted us to stop viewing each hole of golf as a direct, personal threat, and instead, to look at each of the eighteen as a golden opportunity. He wasn’t talking to Tiger Woods, either. The only thing Tiger needs to worry about is whether he’s going to go fifteen under or two under. He lives in a game of changing conditions, where valor and caution are interchangeable at a moment’s notice – we, however, do not.
I remember the joy of my childhood’s golf. I marched to the first tee as king of the universe, not like a weekend failure trudging to the ego gallows. My response to a bad shot was to look skyward and say, “Hey! I’m great with this club – now you’ve got to learn to hit it.” I had a swing like Elvis’ hair (doubt that’s true, but that’s what I thought), I had the courage of a lion and the talent of a major star (knew that wasn’t true, but it sure felt good to think so). My first golf hat said “Don’t cry girls, I’ll be right back” and I sported muscles that I have never been able to find since. I putted like the Charge of the Light Brigade, and ascribed triple bogeys to my evil, imaginary twin.
In short, Mr. Dorsel’s article could have spared me the decades of pain that followed my brief golden age. My brother tried lines like, “You won’t win or lose the British Open with this putt,” but that just decreased the importance of being there at all. He said, “Go for it! Have fun with the challenge,” but oh no, I was going to be the smart golfer, just like the ones on TV. I had to admit, though, that whatever county he hit his drive to, he’d be waiting for me on the green, putting for birdie most of the time.
I remember reading a psychiatric study where an adult was placed in an empty room, except for a cello leaning against a chair. The adult circled it like it was a snake, and eventually made a feeble attempt to play it, terrified of doing something wrong. When a child was put in the room, he did everything with that cello that could be done, including playing the heck out of it. There’s the difference – maybe that’s what Mr. Dorsel thinks is happening to us on the golf course, and he may be right.
He sounds like a radical. Mess up? Who cares? What do you mean, “who cares?” This is my round of golf, it’s precious and fragile. Baloney! Tee it up and hit it – go for it, no matter where “it” happens. It’s your round to enjoy, with eighteen great chances to do just that. Besides, look at the way Bubba won the Masters, Dick Mayer holed out from the fairway, and Jack put a wood a few feet from the hole at Pebble Beach with an admiring Tiger looking on.
Dorsel might have something here. Fear of hitting the ball may be the same fear that says, “I got a bonus-now watch the water heater blow and take it all away.” The course is the perfect forum for all of our “Eeyorishness,” our fatalism and our self-tagging as losers. It’s also the best place to overthrow all of that.
Just ask yourself – what do I really want to come home and say in answer to “How was your round?” How about, “I shot a totally eventless round of golf” Or, how about, “I didn’t screw up until the 7th – pretty good day.”
Ok then, I’m taking Tom at his word. I’m going out there with a new attitude next time, where the worst thing that can happen is, “I cleared the lake on 4 (on my second ball.) – I went for it. I really lived for 18 holes.”
I sure do hope Mr. Dorsel is right about all of this, though, because I can lose an awful lot of Titleist 2s going for it.