Every week on television and when I play in local competitions I notice golfers of all different standards being a little confused about what it means to be satisfied with golf. Knowing when and where to be satisfied has a big impact on our game’s performance and at a social level makes a massive difference to the people you are playing with. We all know of the players that are so dissatisfied with their game that you just don’t want to get grouped with them. In this article you will find ways to explore the details of what being satisfied means and how it affects your game in a variety of ways.
First, let’s take a few seconds to understand satisfaction. It can be seen as the obtainment of a desire/need/want. For example, when we become hungry for food, we eat and then hopefully we become satisfied and content.
In terms of how this relates to golf it could be that you have a certain handicap level you want to reach or even a certain type of shot you want to play. When you do these things most of us then feel satisfied. What I want you to explore here is some scenarios with different people who have varying satisfaction levels and how this impacts their progress and playing style.
Scenario 1 – This is a golfer who roughly plays off a 16 handicap, plays once a week, does no practice except for turning up 15 minutes before hit off and has a bit of a putt and chip, maybe even a few loosening swings. In terms of consistency, this player by nature of their skill level will be fairly inconsistent overall as golfer.
Mentally it’s very important for this golfer to be constantly aware that golf is not going to be their profession and that the main thing golf is offering them back for their investment of large amounts of time and money should be satisfaction and social fun. Often this is not the case in what I see. This golfer often compares themselves to when they played their best or to others who have a better game than them. This golfer can be very unsatisfied for the whole day of golf constantly complaining how they are struggling with a certain part of their game. So the mental lesson here is that if you resemble this golfer you may want to spend a bit more time considering the few good shots you hit well and savor these moments. This will help you relax more, play better golf in general and be a much better playing partner for your group.
Scenario 2 – This golfer is someone playing off around an 8 handicap and who manages to get a couple of practice sessions in each week. They may even find time to play in two comps per week. Skill-level-wise there is a lot more consistency but still moments of madness where they seem to play like a rookie! Satisfaction-wise this is a tricky area to be in, because we now enter the territory where too much satisfaction causes your mind to become complacent and not really advance any further. If this golfer is happy to stay around the level they are at then they need to take the same approach as mentioned above. If this golfer wants to improve a level or two then at times they are going to need to accept that not being satisfied is ok! Think about it: dissatisfaction makes us do things to get satisfied again. If we are not hungry we don’t really go looking for food. How this golfer manages being dissatisfied in their mind can make or break them. The mental lesson for this scenario is to understand that dissatisfaction has a role in improvement.
Scenario 3 – Let’s look at a really good golfer, someone who is a scratch marker or better and look at how satisfaction plays an important role for them. A lot of people at this level are attempting to make a living from the game or at least achieve something solid. Satisfaction for them needs to be in a different place. If they fool themselves into being satisfied with mediocre training and performances then they will not advance very far in such a competitive environment. This level of golfer who is using satisfaction the right way will often be berating themselves on the golf course about this little thing or that little thing. It’s because whether they know it consciously or not they need to keep getting better than their last shot or round if they are to even keep up with the other competitors. Sometimes casual club golfers just don’t get this mentality. They think the person is a perfectionist and sees them as someone who doesn’t really enjoy the experience. Obviously there is a point where this mindset becomes counterproductive and the person’s joy from the game gets strangled by too higher standards.
I hope you now have a better understanding of how satisfaction can help or hurt your game. If you’re basing your satisfaction purely on whether you shoot a certain score or not then prepare the defense armory because golf is going to give you a beating for a long time to come. Find out what other areas of the game satisfy you and whether or not you are content to stay at the level you presently are. Part of my role as a coach is to challenge my clients to get more from themselves so for this month’s article I challenge you to play a round in competition totally satisfied from start to end. See what you find out about yourself!
If you are interested in making the mental side of golf a strength in your game you will find Mat has simple powerful coaching services and products which can help speed up your progress and make the game more enjoyable.