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Golf is best played with hope in your heart and a positive outlook. It can be tough at times to maintain this mindset throughout your round. However, negativity never did anyone any favours out on the golf course. Better players and champions will tell you that keeping your head in the game is paramount to winning and performing well. The Stoic golfer understands this from the outset and employs mental strategies to cope with the pressures and pitfalls inherent in golf. Golf: Great expectations never did anyone any good – just ask Charles Dickens. There is an old Zen saying, ‘always walk with one shoe wet.’ This prepares the traveller on the journey in case it rains.

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Golfers Require Courage & Fortitude

Too many golfers go into their rounds like balloons blown up and they collapse in a heap after the first prick deflates their great expectations. Golf is a challenging test over 4 to 5 hours. It is played on a large area full of penalty areas and hazards. Think about it. We must traverse this green universe as if we are making our way through a maze. We have to navigate our golf balls up and down dale. We must deal with disappointment and the occasional triumph, as we strike our way through 18 holes worth of golfing grit. It takes courage and fortitude to stay the course.

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Unrealistic Ambitions Flounder In Golf

How many times have you fallen at the final hurdle, bogeying or worse the last hole or two? How many times have you nearly got there, only to see it crumble before your eyes? Every stroke counts in golf. Every damn shot, including those missed short putts you should have made. Our minds play a massive role in competitive golf. What goes on upstairs and beats in our hearts makes a huge difference to our scores a lot of the time. It is hard to stay awake to that fact for more than 490 minutes.

Those key moments over those putts you just have to make hover in a seemingly timeless haze. Hearts pump blood and the simplest stroke becomes a crazy test of resolve. What the hell – golf sucks some times.

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Hands up who has walked off the green after making birdie, feeling damn good, only to make a poor swing on the next tee and end up giving that stroke right back. I call it the Post Birdie Syndrome (PBS). Mind games are everywhere in golf. They get you when you are feeling too good and they get you when you are down. Stoicism teaches you to deal with adversity by embracing it and not hiding from it. Welcome the challenge your mishits bring. Take in a few deep ones and breathe the frustration and disappointment away. Overreacting to bad stuff on the golf course usually compounds the problems and turns bogeys into doubles, trebles, and worse.

You gotta walk tall on the golf course no matter the shit that came before. I like to think about disabled golfers and how tough it is for them – it puts my complaints into perspective.

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Golf: Great expectations never did anyone any good. So, as you can see it is a balance between maintaining your equilibrium and keeping a lid on the dreams and desires. Battles are not won without getting your hands dirty. You gotta develop a thick skin as a golfer and not allow your hopes to fade when you make a few mistakes as you will in most rounds. We must keep putting our necks on the line and fronting up with our best stuff again and again.

Golf is a ferocious beast because we have to pay attention to every little thing but not overly sweat the small stuff when things don’t work out. These conundrums are why we love this unique game so much, I suppose.

A useful thing to do is to pay attention to your mindset during your rounds of golf. Otherwise, you are fated to keep repeating the same old stuff that undermines your game every bloody week. See if you can chart the key moments in your round when you lose the plot emotionally and in terms of your mental acuity after that. When the bad feelings and destructive thoughts cloud your judgement and sink your score. Documenting your rounds of golf can reveal a host of useful information that can be used to turn things around. Stuffing up shots can have you feeling like a fool and quickly getting down on yourself. I have heard grown men berating themselves, as if they were dads grilling their naughty child. The golf course can be a smorgasbord for psychologists and trauma specialists. The green cathedral can echo with cursing and confessions of inept blunder.

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Golf can be a grisly affair for the delicate self-esteem of sensitive golfers. Playing partners rarely tread lightly on the crushed egos of their opponents. There is no fool like an old fool on the golf course. Sometimes, I know myself, I return home after a disastrous round of golf and am thankful that there are no loaded weapons in my domicile. The greatest game can treat you with disdain. Conversely, if I have surprised myself with a half decent performance on the links it can lift me up for the rest of the week or until I try my luck out there again. Have you had that experience where you hold back from rushing out to play again so that you can savour the rare feat of a job fairly well done? Perhaps, this is more in keeping with secret men’s business for the golfing tragic. A sad reflection best kept to oneself.

Onward and upward my brethren of golfers. When the mist clears and you can see the flag flying up ahead on yonder green it is a special feeling. Morning has broken and the sun’s rays are streaming upon the fairway. It is good to be alive and good to be a golfer. I was walking in the rain the other day, having just started my round, and I was excited to be out in it and playing golf. How unmodern. We live in a world and era where we avoid the great outdoors in inclement weather.

Our lives are inside lives in the main. We sit on chairs and stare all day at screens. How sad that sounds. Golf gives us something to do outside. We can interact with nature whilst going about the business of playing golf.

Verily I say unto you. Golf is good!

Wisdom from The Stoic Golfer: Finding Inner Peace & Focus on the Fairway by Robert Sudha Hamilton

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