In part two I confessed to you about the time I threw my putter after missing an easy 4 foot birdie putt. Yes, I was and I still am ashamed to admit it, but give me some credit though. I did take my own advice and stay in the feedback loop, using my cybernetic mechanism toward my goal of getting my handicap down to 2. In other words, I didn’t just tell myself that it was a one off incident and that I could just get back in control of my emotions without a worry from then on. Oh no, after after that game of golf, looking back at what had taken place in that game, I became aware of my errors as an imperfect human, just as all of us are. Yes, I’m human too and I’m no more perfect than the next guy. We’re all on a journey of learning toward reaching our goals and as long as you keep learning and adjusting, you’ll keep advancing.
Alright, I understand that, but what next? What if this happens again? What will I do?
Just to reiterate what I said in the last article, it is best to prevent this sort of thing than to have to try and recover from it, right? I’m sure you’ll agree. So after I came to that realization, I started on another book-reading binge to get some more answers. First of all I went back through my NLP training manual to look for help.
I think the first thing we need to know is that the subconscious mind is the realm of all of our emotions. What exactly is an emotion? According to Daniel Goleman, emotions are, in essence, “impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us.” Daniel’s book ‘Emotional I.Q.’ is a really interesting read and it characterizes the actions that follow each of our emotions and their purpose.
It’s a bodily reaction, a release of a pattern of molecules, or chemicals, if that’s easier to understand. This is all controlled by our subconscious mind and is triggered by our senses taking in something and then it being filtered to become our internal representation of that event. It all happens automatically in our subconscious because of the way we have shaped our internal representations over the years through our culture, experiences, upbringing, personality, etc.
These molecules get sent throughout the body from release points all over the body, not just from the mind, and bind with cells to cause them to take an action that is appropriate for that emotion. This is from the book: ‘The Molecules of Emotion’ by Candace Pert phd.
The thing you really need to get from this for golf, is that once this happens, it takes a some time for these molecules that bind (ligands) to unlock from the receptor sites of our cells. So no matter how determined you are to come back to normal after an outburst, like when I threw my club that day, I was up against a chemical process that just takes time to normalize, if I let it.
So with this new scientific knowledge under my belt, what should I have done differently in that club throwing scenario? Well, the next hole I played was a par 3 about 220 yards. Yes, a tough hole. I usually play that hole with my 4-wood that requires a full swing and very good contact to make it there. Normally, I play that hole with confidence and I focus just on swinging it freely like I do with my driver. I pick my spot on the huge green and have the confident thought before I swing that I have the potential to birdie this hole like every other hole. But this time, unbeknownst to me, all those chemicals were locked onto my cells into a pattern that was getting me physically ready for a confrontation (which resulted from my anger on the last hole). This prevented me from my normal swing having much chance, and as a result, I hit a very poor shot that went way right, resulting in a terrible lie and approach angle.
So what should I have done instead? I should have used my next club up, my 3-wood, choked down a little, used a more compact swing that has less chance for error and doesn’t require the finer touch, and played the hole far more conservatively. I should have used my go-to shot. The hole had a huge front opening so if you lay up short you’d have an easy chip up to the hole. If I was going to lay up at all, that’s where it should have been. The object of the game for me on that hole should have been to just get through this hole with no more than a bogey and a good chance of par; to just survive my unresourceful state. To wait it out and allow my body chemicals time to normalize again. With my lack of understanding of what was going on inside my body instead of giving myself the time I needed, I was lucky in scoring a double bogey, I continued to be p.o’d, then I went to the next hole, a par 5, and again played it like I normally do (going for it in 2) and ended up with a triple bogey!
Many golfers, once they lose their cool, think they have to “make up” for their choke and they start “going for it” for everything. They take more chances than normal. They get all fired up and vow to erase that last miss with a birdie. Like when you lose a bet at gambling you think you should go double or nothing. But, we really should be doing the opposite after a bad, negative experience.
We need to scale back, retreat, and regroup so that we can come back strong after our body chemistry returns to normal, which it will sooner if you use this strategy. Then when it does, you can become more aggressive again if that’s how you normally play. I had to give you all that scienctific junk so that you would see the value of this strategy, and you won’t have to throw or break that golf club!
In part 4 the suggestions I’ll be giving you to help with recovering after you lose control is based on the fact that our subconscious mind reacts symbolically.
About the author: Craig Sigl is golf’s anti-practice expert. For years, he struggled to break 80 like so many amateur golfers. After throwing his clubs in the corner of his garage and giving up, he discovered golf’s secrets that changed his life and renewed his game. A year later he scored 77 on a championship course. He then went on to drive his handicap down to a 5, make a hole in one, and record his first under par round…all without practicing. He is now a mental toughness trainer and teaches his methods to golfers worldwide. To learn more about breaking 80 without practice go here now.