“Welcome Back.” An important phrase for a golfer. The journey around 18 holes may commence with great expectations and a hot start. Endless Possibility. You may hit shots you had only previously imagined. These shots fuel a myriad of positive thoughts. Golf however, is a long endeavour. Energy can wane after a few indifferent or poor shots if not properly managed. Often, golfers can talk themselves back to a baseline score because they know they’ve exceeded their scoring comfort zone. A player can then rationalize the hot start was a product of a few lucky breaks or bounces. Before long, they may be scrambling to remain socially acceptable. When bad shots are compounded by unfortunate breaks, a player begins to think of excuses. These excuses can become a downward spiral of negative self-talk leaving a player who just hours ago, was primed for success.
All of a sudden, the transfer of energy from a pure shot rushes through a player’s nerves to their brain. The visual validation of a shot sailing down the center of a narrow fairway or landing next to a flag stick turns the self-talk tide. “Welcome back,” crosses the player’s mind. “Welcome back” is the new baseline serving as the mental table on which positive thoughts begin to accumulate.
That’s what it took for me. A few swings on which to build months of positive self-talk.
Last week, I missed advancing through The Honda Classic pre-qualifier by a single shot. A score of -3 advanced and I came up just shot at -2. But I left the course feeling empowered that I had conquered the day. I had built a house of self-talk from bricks, not cards. Self-talk is completely paradoxical as it can be both the hardest thing to manage when saying kind things about yourself should be the easiest. My game, health and belief are growing sharper by the day and I am ready for an exciting 2013 season.