Howdy, howdy!! Welcome to the podcast, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here and listening to my voice. I don’t know about you but it’s weird listening to your own voice on a podcast, it’s frightening and kinda cool at the same time. I am so encouraged by just looking at the download stats after the first episode and thinking to myself, wow, people are actually listening to me out there. Well, I hope I am providing value in improving your game and in addition, improving your life and also in addition having a blast doing it.
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The Title of this episode is “How Keeping Score can Ruin Your Life”. Ok, I admit, the title is a bit dramatic. Yeah? But, I hope it somehow invoked a little curiosity that you are looking forward to some of my thoughts on this. The scorecard at any golf course offers a space for one thing. The score. Like the famous golf quote goes…”it’s not how, it’s how many.” So, at the end of the round, you look at your score and you determined if it was a good day or a bad day, and you move on with your life. Or how about this, during the round, as you are marking your score on your scorecard after each hole, you are either encouraged or discouraged and carry some type of expectation and weight into the next hole. Your mind is always thinking, adjusting, projecting, protecting. But whatever is going on in your head…you know what I think it’s doing? I think it’s keeping you from playing your best golf.
Setting Goals is Our Privilage
As I mentioned in my previous episode that I am a bit of a data geek. I love collecting data, analyzing it and…learning from it. I also love finding stories in the data I collect. There’s always a story. The story of triumph, the story of luck, story of improvement, the story of hard work paying off, the story of frustration, the story of golf.
I am also naturally very goal-oriented. I function in life with a goal in mind. I love new year resolutions and writing out my goals for the year. I love starting from a clean slate and I start setting goals for what I want to accomplish for the year. I set goals for how many books I want to read, I set goals for how many miles I am going to run, I set goals for how many pounds to lose, I even set goals one year of how many strokes to shave off my game. I am currently in a fitness goal of doing 3 minutes of planking per day for 30 days. My goal here is 6 pack abs. I’ll post pictures when I get there…in 3 years.
While we are talking about goals…I listen to The Life Coach School podcast by Brook Castillo and she talks about goals which really resonated with me, so I am going to repeat what she said for you. She said…“One of the coolest things we can do as human beings…is SETTING GOALS” The Prefrontal Cortex in our brains offers the highest level of humanity…it differentiates us from animals…or any other species that we know of. It allows imagination and creativity as a human being. It’s one of our highest level of activities. The 2nd highest level is to manage ourselves to fulfill those goals. So, we are able to plan ahead, able to commit to those goals and follow through on them. It’s one of our privileges as a human being”. I love this because we can use this in our lives, but mostly, in our golf game continue to get better.
So, with that mentality, for golf, I always had one goal in mind when I walked onto the golf course…my score. Just like what the scorecard wanted me to do. So, so far so good right? I collected data, analyzed my game, worked on my weakness throughout the week. Now I am preparing myself mentally and physically for the next round, I set a solid goal in place and I am pumped up to play my best! All good? All sounds great?
Well, I thought so too. And this is what usually happens throughout my round.
I am focused on number 7. That’s my goal. For every round I play, my goal is to shoot a sub 80 round..79 is the highest I ever want to shoot…no matter what!).
I can’t shoot more than 7 over. 7 bogeys will give me a round of 79, which I can walk away happy knowing I achieved my goal. (Let’s call that my comfort zone – this is according to Dr. Patric Cohn of Peak Performance Sports – he’s a sports psychologist).
So, let’s start my round and what goes on in my head. So, I par a few holes in a row…that’s a great start. Here’s my thought…I have 16 holes left and still have 7 bogeys left.
Now I bogey’d a tough par 4, okay, now here’s my thought…that’s okay because I have an easy par 5 coming up and maybe I can make it up so I can still have 6 bogeys in my bag.
Oh, shoot, I just ended up parring the par 5 instead of a birdie, so now I have to be more cautious because the next hole is a bit tricky and if I bogey, I’ll only have 5 bogeys left.
Can you sense an unhealthy pattern here going on in my brain? First of all, I am constantly doing the math. That’s very unhealthy for everyone…hahaha! Trust me. I studied Engineering, look at what happened to me.
Also, check out this interesting scenario thought process that I go through in my head. I am playing well, I am only 5 over for the entire round and I am teeing up on the 17th hold. Great!! I have 2 easy holes left and I still have 2 bogeys to spare. Worst case scenario, I bogey the last two holes and I am still home free at 79. Well, guess what usually happens in that situation? Yup, you guessed it, I shoot 79 or worse.
What the frick!! Why do I do this? Why is this setting a “score” goal so not helping me play my best? Why is it that I am psyching myself out?
These are great questions Hanju. And, I have answers. But first, let me break it down and tell you why having a “score” goal is not helping you play your best and is ruining your life!
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What is that? Again, as I mentioned before, Comfort Zone is the score that you are expected to shoot. You are constantly doing math in your head and you’ve programmed your mind to stay in it. That’s what feels comfortable to you. And that’s where you will stay. It creates frustration when you are not going to reach it, but if you are over-performing and know that you’ll probably exceed it (like the example of me being 5 over with only 2 holes left), instead of finishing strong you start playing defensively to protect what you already have…and guess what, your pars turns into bogeys.
Time travel? Yes. Your mind travels ahead and starts to predict your future and your mind also travels in the history of the last shots (especially the bad ones) and paralyzes you. I was listening to a podcast called “Golf Smarter” by Fred Greene (episode #684)…yes, you heard right, episode #684, he’s on an episode like #703 now…which, me at episode #2 is just crazy to think about. But huge respect!! I think with the last name like “Greene” you are just destined to love and talk about golf for 700 plus episodes. I wish my parent’s name me…ACE or something…I would have known my destiny earlier on. Anyways, episode #684, he interviews Dr. Joseph Parent (Author of Golf’s best selling mental gamebook…Zen Golf. And he talks about time travel. He says “our bodies are always here and now. It’s the only place they can be. The only place our body can be in space is now. The only place our body can be in time is now. But our mind is like a time machine. We spend most of our time replaying the past (which doesn’t exist anymore) and pre playing the future, which hasn’t come into existence and usually, it’s not how we think it’s going to turn out. If you are on the 12th hole, and thinking about a shot on the 6th hole, you are not fully present in the here and now. If you are on the 16th hole (my example) and thinking about what your score could be on the 18th hole, you are ahead of yourself. You are not here and now. And your body is not synchronized with your mind and you won’t get the job done!
Okay, are you convinced now? Are you convinced that the traditional way of keeping your score does not serve you well? Yes!! Yes Hanju. I am so convinced. You are so right. So, what do I do now? Okay, now you have to wait for my next episode for the life-changing, paradigm-shifting, mind-blowing idea. Thanks for listening. LOL, just kidding.
Okay, so, here’s a new way to think and keep score that will completely shift your paradigm. This will change everything. ARE YOU READY??
To summarize the way to truly improve your game next week, implement these 3 things after your round this week. 1. Analyze your game, figure out what you did well, what you did poorly and what you want to work on. 2. Then, schedule a time during the week to practice for an hour or two. Then, 3. practice the drill that will keep you engaged, learning and having fun.
So, going back to my story. When people I play with now ask me…hey, what did I do wrong? Instead of trying to give them swing tips, I now tell them…”um…you didn’t practice.” YOU NEED TO PRACTICE!!!
Here’s the thing. We all want to get better. And we all want to get better because this game can frustrate the heck out of you. It’s a difficult game, It might even be considered one of the hardest sports in the world to master, but I believe with your commitment to learning, your commitment to growing, and ultimately, your commitment to practice. You will improve and you will have so much more fun than you’ve ever had before. Winning is fun. Playing well is fun. Working hard and seeing the results is fun.
Have a great week everyone. Let’s get Better together.
And thanks for listening to Better Golf Academy.
Download FREE Scorecard Template
Play in the moment
Okay, you heard Dr. Joseph right? Here and now. Be here, be now…your body, your mind. Don’t think about the shot in the past, don’t think about what your predicted score will be in the future. You are here and now, hitting the shot. Think about putting the best effort to hit the shot that is in front of you. Result doesn’t matter, just make your best swing to hit your best shot.
Set new goals
Goals are still very important, and as I said, it’s a privilege as a human to set and execute goals. But my goals are not scores anymore which the scorecard suggests, it’s what I can produce being here and now. So, this is what I do. I keep track of 2 important things that will result in a good, respectable round. Greens in Regulation and Up/Down saves. That’s it. That’s all I focus on. If my #1 goal on every tee is to get it on the green, I focus on my drive (here and now) to give myself a best-case scenario to approach the green. When I am hitting my 2nd shot toward the hole, only focus I have is the here and now and trying to get the ball on the green. Now, if I missed the green, I am now focusing (here and now) on the chip or the bunker shot to get it as close to the pin as possible to get up and down. And my putt is now the deal maker or breaker to achieve my goal, I am all of a sudden, fully engaged (here and now) to make this putt the best putt I can execute.
By having this mind shift, you have eliminated time traveling in your mind and really really creating a different focus on playing your best golf. Shot by shot. Every shot matters and each shot deserves all of you…here and now.
My personal goal for every round is number 12. (not 7). If I achieve either green in regulation or an up/down save for that hole, I add 1. And I try to get to 12 by the end of the round. 12 holes where I either hit a green in regulation or get up/down to save par will get me to my ultimate goal of shooting in the 70s. If you are a higher handicapper and want to get down to shooting in the ’80s, try to set your goals to 8. That’s 4 greens in regulation or up/downs on the front nine, and 4 greens in regulation or up/down saves in the back nine. This totally do-able. Try it, and just watch your game improve.
Download my new scorecard template
To help you keep track of this new way of keeping score, I’ve created a new scorecard template for you. It’s in an excel spreadsheet so you can fill in your courses own information but you can print it on an AVERY 5389 paper, which is a (2) 4×6 index card on an 8 ½ x 11 sheet. You can just print right on your printer. Also, I’ve included the amazon link to purchase your score cardholder that holds your new printed scorecard that you can keep in your back pocket. You can download all the information at bettergolfacadmy.com/2 So, let’s geek out together, yeah? I really hope this can be helpful to you.
I have a friend named Tony that I play with all the time that beats me! I know, I know, I love him, but…dang it…why you do that to me, Tony!! He hits it longer and executes more pure hits than any other amateur I’ve ever played with. But mostly, he has this unique mental game that I admire. In the middle of the round, I’ll ask him, hey, you are playing really well, where you at? Even? 1 over? And he’ll first look at me with a blank stare and will say…um…I am not sure. This blew my mind at first, but I now know his secret. He plays with the mental strategy of the here and now. The overall score doesn’t mean much at the moment, but he is focused on the shot that’s at hand and he focuses all his thoughts on how to hit his best shot that’s right in front of him. That’s all.
Are you ready to play your best golf? As you know, there are no guarantees in golf. But there’s a way we can continue to search and pursue ways to strategize better, think better and play better…and honestly, this idea might not work for everyone….but the key take away here is to find a way to be in the moment, find a way to focus all your mind, body and soul in what’s in front of you…here and now. It’s the only place they can be. The only place our body can be in space is now. The only place our body can be in time is now. Let our mind and body sync together to produce your best effort, every shot, every time.
Hey, don’t let the score ruin your life. Okay? Okay. Have a great week everyone. Let’s get Better together.
And thanks for listening to Better Golf Academy.