I’m sure many of us have uttered those words. Hell, I may have shouted the phrase a time or two. Golf can be a frustrating game, and that frustration is an odd form of self torture. Why do we keep coming back for more? Everyone’s answer is likely a little different, but at least part of the reason is hope. Hope that the next shot will be better than the last. Hope that we can more consistently hit that pure iron shot from three rounds ago. This hope comes from a belief that we can be better in the future.
You may be wondering, “What if that hope starts to fade, or isn’t strong enough to overcome just how much I suck? What if I suck so bad that I can’t get better?” I understand the feeling. However, I have sucked at golf long enough to realize that everyone sucks. Yes. Everyone. You, your brother, your cousin Jim who always wins the scrambles, the local pro, even guys like Ricky Fowler.
Let me explain. “Suck” is a relative term. You suck at golf… compared to the local pro. The local pro sucks compared to Ricky Fowler. Depending on the day, Ricky Fowler sucks compared to any number of guys on the tour. So you see, everyone sucks… doesn’t that feel better?
Now that we are in the same sucky boat, here’s the good news.
The fact that we suck is the reason we improve.
That’s deep, right? Not gonna lie… kinda caught myself off guard when I realized it. If I didn’t suck, I wouldn’t hope to hit a better shot or score lower. Therefore, I wouldn’t practice, and I wouldn’t get better. Simple as that.
Don’t be afraid to suck. Use it as motivation to improve. Continue to compare yourself to players that are better than you, and you will find ways to make progress. The greatest players understand and implement this to continue to find motivation. Tiger chased Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors. (We’ll see if he can resume the chase as he returns to the game.) That comparison provided a clear goal, and the desire to improve to reach the goal.
As with all philosophies, there are subtleties that make this idea complete.
To start, you must remove the negative connotation from the word, suck. Understand that, in this case, it is just a comparison term. Don’t beat yourself up over every shortcoming. Identify those shortcomings as areas to improve and create a plan to reach your goal and improve.
On that note, effective and realistic goal settings strategies should still be applied to direct your motivation in productive ways. If you are a weekend hacker, don’t compare yourself to Justin Thomas, and set a goal to hit the driver as far as he does. Instead compare your swing mechanics to Justin’s, and make a goal to improve your distance. It doesn’t sound that much different. The key is 2 fold.
- Compare yourself to something Justin has control over. He controls his swing, but the end result, although heavily influenced by the swing, is affected by numerous things in the environment that neither Justin or you can control.
- Your goal should be relative to your current performance, and not the performance of Justin. This allows you to focus on the positive improvement, no matter how incremental, and not on the seemingly huge gap between your performance and Justin’s.
To sum it all up, we all suck at golf… and we’ll be better for it. Time to start practicing. ;-)
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