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Becoming A More Consistent Golfer

Introduction

Whenever I ask a golfer what aspect of their game they would like to improve, one of the most common answers is ‘my consistency’. When asked to expand on what they mean by this, it becomes clear that many golfers are unsure.

Is it fewer bad shots? Is it to play the same every time they go out on the course?

It seems odd that many golfers say they want consistency, yet their handicap hasn’t changed for years. This would suggest that they are in fact, very consistent. So, perhaps the first step is to define what the word means to you?

What exactly are you looking to achieve?

Why Do You Want Consistency?

This question leads us onto the larger question of why we play golf. What do you want from your experience of the game? Consideration of that question could fill a book, let alone a few paragraphs in an article. So let’s try to stick with the narrower point.

Most golfers would agree that they would like their experience of the game to be enjoyable, satisfying and fulfilling. Every golfer has different values, beliefs and expectations about what makes the game ‘good’ for them.

So why is consistency such a common answer when golfers are asked what they are looking for? How would being more consistent enhance your experience of the game?

Are Tour Players Consistent?

Most golfers inevitably measure and compare themselves against the best players in the world. The golfers they see on television from week to week. Whether this is a sensible idea is again, perhaps beyond the scope of this article. But when it comes to consistency, are Tour Players good role models, or are we being deceived by our perceptions?

When you watch golf, you are seeing the best of the best. The best players in the world, and the ones that are playing the best that week. This can lead to a perception of the game at the top level that is distorted, if not flat out incorrect.

If you have a favourite golfer that you follow, you will be aware that they don’t play well every week. That the spread between the best and their worst score is actually similar to yours. And that they can hit some pretty awful shots from time to time.

Watching golf on television and listening to golf commentators lauding every shot they see might well be exciting entertainment. But it might not be helping your golf very much.

The Problem With Expectations

An expectation is the precursor to a disappointment. So when we compare ourselves with the best players in the world, it is inevitable that we are going to put pressure on ourselves and start to get in our own way. When that comparison is based on a distorted perception then we are setting ourselves up to fail.

So having cleaned the lens of our perceptions, how can we address the real issue? To help fulfil the real desire golfers have – for a rich, satisfying and enjoyable experience of the game?

Well, the first step might be to see inconsistency as a blessing, rather than a curse. After all, who wants golf to be the same, or even similar every time you go out? I think a lot of the time this comes from fear. You don’t want to hit a bad shot, or have a bad round, especially in front of your peers. You are more worried about playing badly, rather than wanting to play well. You are playing from a defensive mindset from the start.

The second would be to try to be aware of your expectations, and leave them in the locker room with your shoes when you head to the first tee. I know this is easier said than done, but just try noticing when they creep in and disturb you.

What Would Consistency Really Look Like?

I have written about consistency in more depth in both my books. In the second one, Take Relief, I use the analogy of the fisherman who goes to the river full of hope. He catches fish after fish until he suddenly realises that he is in fact in a nightmare. That one of the reasons he enjoys fishing is for the challenge and the uncertainty.

It’s the same for most golfers. If you knew how the game was going to unfold every time, why would you play? A big contributor to the richness of the experience is the element of uncertainty. In their desire for consistency most golfers seem to have overlooked this.

There is nothing wrong with consistency in terms of process. In taking the time and trouble to establish a routine for getting set up to the ball in the same way every time. Or in practicing to allow your body and mind to become conditioned to swinging the club with good rhythm and timing. Doing both will make it more likely that you play your best golf more often.

Conclusion

Maybe we don’t want consistency in the way we think we do? Perhaps what we really want is to become comfortable with the natural ups and downs of the game? As the great golf coach Michael Hebron insightfully commented,

The best players in the world are not consistent.
The best players in the world are great at dealing with inconsistency.’

My suggestion for moving in this direction is to gain a better understanding of how your thoughts and feelings combine to produce your experience of the game. In doing so, you will release yourself from the fear of playing badly that most golfers are alluding to when they say they want to become more consistent.

This will free you up to play your best golf when you really want to, and to become more inconsistent but in the right direction. Hitting better shots and shooting lower scores that perhaps you thought you were capable of.

Action Steps – What to do next

1. Getting in your own way is a big factor in playing inconsistent golf. Book a discovery call to understand more about how your mind works.

2. Playing your best golf regularly depends on good fundamentals. Build a rock solid foundation for your swing with the Prepare Like a Golf Professional online learning program.

3. If you’d like to read another article, follow this link to learn why working on your golf swing might not bring the consistency you’re searching for.

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