What advice have I given myself?

aristotle

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”Aristotle

By Ian Hardie

As you would expect I spend a fair amount of time each week writing posts for Golf Habits

Most of which are written with the intention of helping you guys play better golf

So much like the mechanic who never fixes his own car

Or the builder who never quite does their own renovations at home

For the past few months

I basically haven’t been playing golf or practicing at all

Which I suppose is a bit odd for a Golf Professional that writes a golf blog

Especially one that is aiming to compete in Senior PGA tour events in a few years’ time

I have however been thinking about golf a lot as you might expect

While writing Golf Habits

So I’d have to say the break I’ve had from actually playing golf

Was exactly what I needed

As it’s given me time to gather my thoughts about my own golf

And what I need to do to become ‘competitive’ again

Especially important has been a patch where I thought a lot about

Exactly what I had done differently

To transition from low handicap amateur

To a ‘competitive’ golf pro when I was younger

During which the realisation came to me that

I have exactly the same opportunity again now

Some 25 years later

Starting from being a low handicap amateur again for the past couple of years

Fitting in golf like most of you do

Around work, family and other commitments

I wasn’t expecting to set the world on fire

Playing once or twice a week

And having the odd practice session

Now however, after a few months back working as a PGA Golf Professional

It’s time to ‘reset’ myself

Using what I did the first time as a guide

While blending it with the knowledge gained from having 25 more years’ life experience

I am about to head back towards being a ‘competitive’ pro again

So the big question is

What advice have I got for myself?

Quite a bit actually

The first of which is going to sound a bit strange to most of you

“You need to get rid of taking a scorecard for the next year or so Ian”

“Just play golf by attempting the shot that is required rather than the safe shot to keep your round going”

“The score that results is irrelevant for now”

And before you ask

No, I haven’t been watching the movie ‘Tin cup’ over and over again

So why play like that for the next year or so?

Both as a young amateur and over the past couple of years since I returned to playing golf

I have been guilty over both periods of time of playing safely and conservatively

To enable me to finish rounds with a score that I would find ‘acceptable’ for the day

Which during both periods of time as an amateur golf

I used to have an ‘acceptable’ range

That was between even par and six over par

It was where my ‘golf score thermostat’ was set if you like

As long as I was scoring within that range

I would finish a round happy that I was playing ok

If my score was under par

It was adjudged ‘a good day’

Any score more than six over par for the round

Was ‘a bad day’ as you would expect

Now you might be thinking

What’s wrong with that?

There are a couple of things

Firstly, that scoring range is simply nowhere near ‘competitive’ at any professional event

It may well be enough to make the odd cut or finish in the top 30 golfers on occasion

But that’s not where I am aiming

In reality it’s about 8 – 10 shots away from being competitive in professional events

However it’s the second thing that will not only help me to get me back to that ‘competitive’ scoring range

It may well help you as well

As I have had my ‘golf score thermostat’ set in that even par to six over par range

Any idea how I would start to think while playing if I was maybe 3 over par with four holes to go?

Play the shots I should to attempt to make birdies on each hole and finish with a one under par round

Or play very conservatively for those last four holes

So that I would finish with a score that was within ‘my acceptable range’

Which if we really look at it truthfully

The words should be ‘comfort zone’

I can tell you now – it’s been the second option

But as you would imagine

If I keep playing within a ‘comfort zone’

I’m not going to get anywhere near the level I’m aiming at

So to reset my ‘golf score thermostat’

I need to play without caring about the score or the outcome of the game

For at least a year

Just as I was taught to do by the golf professional who turned me

From a young 5 handicap amateur into a ‘competitive’ professional golfer

I even remember his exact words

”Learn to play the shots required properly, the scores will come later”

So I’m heading out to reset my ‘golf score thermostat’

Somewhere much nearer where I need to be

To be a ‘competitive’ professional golfer again

I’m looking forward to it

Take a minute or two to think about your game

Do you have your ‘golf score thermostat’ set too high?

If you think you do

Throw the scorecard away for a while

And just hit the golf shots how they should be hit

Without worrying about the result

You’ll be a different golfer in a year!

Play well

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