Golf Player (1898) print in high
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Many of us have walked in the valley of the death of our game at times during our golfing lives. When your golf game deserts you it is not a nice feeling. Of course, as Stoics we all know that we are not our feelings, well not only our feelings. To play golf for any length of time we must have a certain degree of resolve. There are good times and bad times, even, within a round of golf, let alone over a season. Marcus Aurelius led Roman soldiers in battles over a lifetime and his messages, in his Meditations, call upon the fortitude necessary to survive and thrive in these circumstances.

Golf in the heat of competitive battle can be like this.

man in maroon tank top
Photo by Genaro Servín on

What To Do When Your Golf Sucks?

We play golf, I suspect, to master the huge array of variables that the game can throw at us over nearly 5 hours. Our fascination with and enduring love of the game is built upon this crucible. To survive the many challenges that golf can manifest and, occasionally, come out on top is a might fine feeling. Of course, we are not only our feelings and it is our Stoic resolve, which ultimately triumphs in the game of golf.

When your game deserts you, however, it really sucks.

Golfer clipart, vintage hand
when your golf game deserts you!

Sustained Bad Golf Experiences

Not being able to execute shots that you know you can make is a sickening sensation in the pit of your stomach. Stuffing up chips around the green is particularly galling. Missing makeable putts costs you more than just a shot it costs you your self-esteem. Playing good golf can be an exhilarating experience. Sometimes it seems almost effortless. The reverse, however, is equally distressing and sustained bad play can grind your confidence into the cold hard dirt beneath your feet.

Why do we lose our ability to play this game? Where does it go?

There are a number of reasons upon which we can apportion blame when our golf game deserts us. Relationship problems on the home front is a sure fire winner, in my experience. You can always tell when your playing partner is in the dog house at home. This shows us just how feelings impact so strongly upon our ability to play golf.

The tempo demanded by the golf swing is extremely susceptible to emotional factors. Anger changes things dramatically. An even temperament promotes an even tempo in your swing.

We know this stuff, but it is much harder to deal with it effectively just the same. Finding processes, mental strategies on-course, to manage this stuff is pretty important if you want to arrest the negative outcomes.

man walking carrying black and red golf bag on green grass field
Photo by Jopwell on

Lack of preparation before teeing off is another very common cause of poor play. If you are in a slump try changing your pre-round routine to see if you can buck the trend and fire up. Golf is a process orientated activity. We all need to get into that frame of mind in preparation for our rounds. Off the cuff stuff is not a recipe for success in golf. Golf is a game involving hitting a small ball with a stick, it is an ancient pastime. Slow down your processes and get out of the instantaneous digital space prior to playing golf. Google aint helpful on the golf course, in terms of your swing mechanics. Hang overs are not helpful either.

Golf boy #7 - when your golf game deserts you
Golf boy #7 by Library of Congress is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Maintaining your composure over nearly 5 hours in a competitive round of golf is a challenge for everyone.

Golf demands so many different skills and a wide array of shots. The geographic terrain can be very tough on our game. Getting set on the slopes with the line of your shoulders parallel to the surface is sometimes forgotten and this usually results in a duffed shot. Waste areas and bunkers provide their own challenges. The ups and downs during a round can wear away at your resolve over the journey. The mental game is paramount to master if you are to have a fighting chance at victory.

Perhaps, every golf club and course should have a small chapel or temple, where golfers can go and pray. A place where we can negotiate with the golfing gods in silent contemplation just prior to teeing off. Oh dear Lord three things I pray:

To hit the ball more cleanly.

To keep my calm more dearly.

And make more putts clearly.

Day by day! Hole by hole. Dear Lord.

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

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