The best players encounter interruptions and realize the need to adjust during a round of golf. They do so with great care. (Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.)
Every round of golf has its own pace or personality if you will. Seldom does the game go at an even pace for 18 holes and changes will occur. You’ve begun your round and maybe even gotten off to a nice start and all of a sudden play grinds to a halt or the weather changes dramatically. If you play when most others play, you will inevitably experience delays. You will also encounter times in which you have to play faster. And play enough, and you’re bound to also experience sometimes profound changes in the weather – rain, wind, temperature changes, etc. The touring professionals encounter this all the time as a matter of routine, which makes their performances even more remarkable. So what can the rest of us learn from them?
If there is a wait, here are a couple of tactics you might employ.
1. Put your brain and expectations in neutral. Do what is comfortable for you, if you are typically reserved, stay reserved and if you are more vocal and outgoing, find someone to talk with, but avoid golf and non-golf anxiety topics (auto problems, divorce, financial and health problems, etc.).
2. Sit or stand away from the tee box you are waiting on. Golf is a game about you and how you do against yourself, so avoid judging other’s bad swings and failed shots. Alternatively, if you know the game of a quality player, you might observe them to see how the conditions affect their shot, but nothing more. Don’t judge yourself good or bad by comparing yourself to them.
3. Don’t worry about your score or the scorecard. What’s done is done, and a mature expert golfer won’t let such change their upcoming strategy or emotions.
4. As you are about to resume play, turn your golfing mind back on. Loosen up your muscles and commit to full engagement.
5. Because you have just resumed full engagement, act as if you just stepped off the last green or shot, and go through your full procedure without rushing. Give the shot the time and attention it deserves for the ball doesn’t know or care that there has been a delay.
Now on the other hand, let’s presuppose that you’ve played through a group or your group needs to pick up the pace for some reason. Here are some guidelines to handle that.
1. Don’t rush and do stick to your normal routine. Be ready to play and you may speed things up between shots, but never over them. Besides a poor shot will result in more time than a normally executed good one. And don’t blame your rushing on anyone else but you.
2. While the urge to hurry may be great, stick to your processes and your commitment to your shot – and not the results. Playing either to impress or not to embarrass take you away from your process. And most of all, be a little selfish reminding yourself that your process and preparation will carry you through.
As for weather course condition changes, you can decide to delight in them as your secret advantage, stay patient in neutral, or curse your bad luck and even verbally complain. You can guess what the best response is. I grew up playing and practicing under all adverse conditions. Whether or not my technique and ability were really great, I thought they were. The worse the conditions became, the more fun I decided to have. I knew I had done my preparation work and that I could handle the changes better than most. As a result, I did and so can you.
In conclusion, the game sometimes requires you to shift gears and you have a critical choice. I recommend you look for ways to make changes in pace and course conditions work for you rather than against you. This is your inside show and other’s opinions of your game don’t matter. In fact, most others will be focused on the negative effects of these changes and struggle. Adversity on the course is your chance to flow right by your competition provided you allow it!