Golf Anger Management – control emotions part 1
“Championship golf is not about who hits the best shots, it’s about who does the best job of controlling his emotions”
Most of us golfers have seen the golf comedy movies like Caddyshack, Tin Cup, and Happy Gilmore. If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so. In fact, I encourage you to watch every golf movie you can get your hands on. I recently watched the movie Bobby Jones, a stroke of genius and The Greatest Game Ever Played and both of those movies actually brought tears to my eyes. Really! And I’m not ashamed to admit it. Both were about overcoming huge obstacles and achievement in golf AND LIFE. They tweaked my emotional chords.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the comedies are great too for what they are! But, some of the characters actions are not what you would want to do in your game. Watch those movies with discernment. Enjoy them and come out of them with a big smile thinking “what a great sport I love that has so much fun, joy and laughter to go along with it.”
We like those movies because us golfers so desperately want a pro golfer to be expressive, to show his emotions, to be a “performer” like Happy Gilmore. Lee Trevino, Fuzzy Zoeller and Chi Chi used to do some of that and we loved them for it!. We want entertainment! That’s really why John Daly is a favorite these days. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and we can identify with him. He lets his anger out, he swears, he tells us about his problems in his marriages etc.
But look who are the top people on the tours: Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Tiger, Ernie, Phil, Annika. All pretty boring to watch. Out of those, the only one you ever see expressing his emotions is Tiger. He’s an exception as you’ll see him sometimes show his disgust for a bad shot but he has had many many years of mental training in dealing with his emotions and has obviously learned very well how to compartmentalize. Even so, 99% of the time he is as robotic and cold-looking as those others. Unfortunately, it is the rare person that will entertain us as we watch golf and play well at the same time.
So, I’m really sorry to say this but, Happy Gilmore is really just a fantasy and if you want to score well, you’ve got to be more like Retief with regard to our emotions. Why is this so? The answer is because of the mind-body connection and communication system. You may have heard this phrase casually mentioned for all sorts of things related to health and healing and yes, it does apply there for sure. But what is it?
I’ve been asking this question for awhile now and I believe I finally found the answer in a book called: Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert. She was a government research scientist trying to find ways to help drug addicts recover. Her studies led her to fighting aids and other diseases. And it all boils down to this:
We create our own body chemistry with our habitual thoughts.
That’s the mind-body connection and the more I learned about it, the better my game got.
Did you know that studies have shown that a huge percent of cancer patients have had major life changes happen to them prior to being diagnosed with the disease? Many of you know firsthand about how stress affects your body. I’m getting a little off the subject so let’s get back to golf.
The bottom line to all of this for our game for you to know is that our body chemistry which affects the actions of all of our cells, is very delicate and it doesn’t take much to push it out of balance. And it is all controlled by our unconscious mind that has as it’s prime directive to PRESERVE THE BODY. So when you experience negative emotions, your unconscious mind acts in such a way as to do what it thinks is necessary to first and foremost keep you alive. This comes in direct opposition to playing a game like golf!
When you set if off balance with an emotion like ANGER, it gets ready for a confrontation. This involves sending adrenaline out, sending peptides to cells everywhere to communicate the need to either prepare for battle or to shut down so that the cells that need the resources for battle get them. Many of those cells are NEEDED for golf! Many of those cells are located in your brain that are used to make good strategic decisions about your next shots. Those resources are needed in the nerve cells that you use for touch and feel on the putting green, for instance, and they aren’t getting ’em!
You see, until I started studying some of what scientists have been coming up with the last couple decades in this area, I just wasn’t convinced about all this emotion and feeling stuff. I just didn’t pay attention to it. I thought that the key to my improvement was just another lesson and a few buckets of balls away. yes, I saw that the pros were all very calm, steady, and emotionless but I thought it was because they were naturally like that. That they were just born that way. WRONG! Those men and women have worked very hard to DEVELOP those attributes and skills with regard to controlling their emotions. I think most of them probably didn’t have to learn all about the science of neuropeptides, ligands, fluid transport systems etc. to be convinced they needed to do this to play well. They probably just saw that they played better when they developed their emotional I.Q. and so they worked on it just like they do their putting stroke.
This is what we have to do too if we want some easy scoring benefits Without Practicing and the good news is that everyone can develop and improve on this for the rest of your life. Even more good news is that you don’t have to be a complete robot. Remember when I talked about your 3 different personalities on the course. Go ahead and have fun and laugh and smile during your personable phase. But, if you want to score lower, you will have to get control of your negative emotions.
I read a recent article about “Terrible” Tommy Bolt where he said he admitted he left a lot of money on the course because of all his temper tantrums over the years. He also said ” It thrills crowds to see a guy suffer. That’s why I threw clubs so often. They love to see golf get the better of someone, and I was only too happy to oblige them. At first I threw clubs because I was angry. After a while it became showmanship, plain and simple. I learned that if you helicopter those dudes by throwing them sideways instead of overhand, the shaft wouldn’t break as easy. It’s an art, it really is…And never break your driver and putter in the same round.”
In part 2 of this, I’ll give you some more solid ways to help control your emotions…now that you’re convinced you need to! Look for part 2 in your email.
Greens and fairways,