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The More I Practice The Luckier I Get

golf grassy landscape

Much to Hannah's despair my passion is sport, and especially Golf. We all know the famous quotes from the greatest players in the world, one of my personal favourites from Ray Floyd "They call it golf because all the other four letter words were taken"

The parallels between golf and how we approach life can be clearly seen, it was the great Bobby Jones who said "Golf is the closest game, to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots and you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies". What that says to me is that whatever has happened in the past, even the immediate past, has happened, we can't change it, there's no reset button so we have to deal with what we have in the moment and do all that we can to bring about the most positive outcome we can. Dr Bob Rotella said "Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses, much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots", how true of life that is. Is perfection ever achievable? All that we can ever do is our very best at that moment.

As Ben Hogan said "The most important shot in golf is the next one", we understand that we can reflect on golfing disaster and perhaps that can cause us to predict disastrous outcomes, whereas rationally we know that anything that has gone before us has absolutely no physical influence on our next shot, unless we allow it to have. Success in life, as it is in golf, is not perhaps about avoiding things going wrong, this is almost impossible, it is how we respond and move on which is the true measure of success.   

We as golfers can spend hours on the range, and on the putting green (or the Wailing Wall as I like to call it) and hone our physical skills, which of course is important as it helps to build our confidence to perform.

When we have that inner confidence we can perform at our best, and of course this would suggest that our greatest ability to eke out our highest potential may not be held on the range or the putting green but within that small space between our left and right ears, and its telling that one of the greatest of all time Sam Snead said, "Of all the hazards, fear is the worst"

As a hypnotherapist I find that fascinating, and extremely relevant when we consider how the brain works. When our anxiety goes up, our primitive mind becomes more influential and we can lose focus, make irrational decisions and react in a way that is to the detriment of what we want to achieve, how many times have we heard ourselves or our fellow golfers say something like "I always go in that bunker/lake/rough*" *delete as applicable. That fear or anxiety, can cause us to do the one thing that we absolute want to avoid, and while focussing on what we want to avoid we don't have room or we neglect to focus on what we want to achieve. I wonder what would happen if we focused clearly on simply putting the ball on fairway, on the green, and in the hole how much better we would score, and how successful we could become. Is that the same in life?

What we understand is that when we think negatively, like when we imagine the ball doing exactly what we don't want it to do, we create that image and then our brain has a plan of where that ball is going to go and hey presto, off it flies towards certain doom, as we stand and blame the club, or other inanimate object for the adverse performance whilst saying to our playing partners "I don't get it, I was hitting it great on the range".

There's no trees, lakes or bunkers on the range so we can happily visualise the ball flying off the club, relatively straight, and that's no coincidence. I would argue that we would be far better served creating a positive image in our brain including what we want to achieve.

Perhaps, one of the most important elements to practice then is to be positive about what we tell ourselves is going to happen and becoming skilled at seeing that positive outcome, so that when we can take positive aim for what we want to achieve we have more chance of hitting the hole than just leaving it to luck. I reckon Gary Player had it right when he said "The more I practice the luckier I get". I'm absolutely certain that this lesson from Golf can teach us all so much about how to successfully achieve our goals in life, as well as perhaps bringing the handicap down a shot or two.

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