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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are You Sure You “Ought” to Be Better?

“Ought” is a nasty word in so many ways. I looked it up in my dictionary and here’s the somewhat convoluted definition:
(a verb) Used to indicate:
  1. Duty or obligation (You ought to try harder.)
  2. Prudence or advisability (They ought to have health insurance.)
  3. Desirability (You ought to have been there; it was interesting.)
  4. Likelihood or probability (I ought to finish soon.)
Wow! Even the definition is a guilt trip!

Welcome to what I believe is the primary source of our insecurity on the golf course… the dreaded “ought.” How many times have you tried to play a shot, screwed it up big time, and berated yourself with “What’s wrong with me? I OUGHT to be able to do this!”

Tell me, do you play that shot a lot? When was the last time? How did that one come out? (Someone once said that insanity was doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different outcome. Ok, guilty as charged.) Maybe you did it well before. Other golfers don’t perform perfectly every time; what makes you better than the rest of us? Do you think that, just because you didn’t pull this shot off, you are somehow less valuable than you would be if you had been successful? Do you have something to prove?

Or is it, most likely, some self-destructive mixture of all of these?

“Ought” is one of the heaviest words in the English language. For one thing, it buries us under unrealistic expectations. Perhaps Tiger or Phil or those other pros can get away with that kind of reasoning; they spend hours every day working on their games. But you? You’re a weekend golfer; you probably can’t even guarantee one round a week. Where do you get off judging your game by how Tiger plays?

I bet you never thought poor play could be a positive thing! But where your mental game is concerned, it certainly can be. If you don’t get to practice or play much, then you have absolutely no right to burden yourself with the standard of play that a professional does. Just watch Tiger slam a few clubs after he makes a “poor” shot that most of us weekend players would have paid good money for. That’s why the pros spend a fortune on sports psychologists.

You and me, we don’t need a “sportshrink.” Tomorrow I’ll show you a more balanced mental approach to beating the insecurities you have about your game.

But for now, just lose the “oughts,” folks. Enjoy the game for a change.

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