Are you an angry golfer? If you're looking to stop your irate outbursts, our nine tips will help you find golfing nirvana in no time
How to curb your anger on the golf course
I get it, you care about your golf. So do I. But what’s the difference? I don’t have a petulant outburst every time something goes against me.
Maybe you don’t realise, or maybe you don’t care, but it makes things extremely uncomfortable for your playing partners when you throw your club after an errant drive or vociferously chastise yourself after missing a four-footer. It happens. That’s golf. And guess what? Realising that might be the secret to lowering your scores.
Here are nine ways for you to curb your anger on the golf course…
1) Get some perspective
Why are you playing golf? Chances are it’s because it’s a hobby of yours. And hobbies are supposed to be enjoyed. Nothing of any significance in the grand scheme of things rests of any of your shots, so don’t act as if it does. You’re not a journeyman tour pro attempting to support his family while clinging to a dream. You play golf for fun. And whinging, moping and complaining aren’t fun.
2) Laughter is the best medicine
Don’t be one of those people who can’t take a joke, or can’t laugh at themselves. It really is very therapeutic when you respond to a shanked drive by bursting into laughter. A knock-on effect is that it makes everyone in your group feel at ease, and lets them know it’s okay to respond to adversity (in golfing terms!) with humour. It really helps the group dynamic.
3) Remember your last good shot
A common psychological flaw is dwelling on your last bad shot, not your last good one – something that feeds in nicely with the glass-half-full attitude of most golfers. So next time you miss a two-footer, remind yourself that such instances are rare; next time you top a drive, remind yourself that you haven’t done that for two rounds.
Even the best players in the world hit awful shots – think Tiger Woods pulling his opening tee shot into a lake at the 2006 Ryder Cup, Webb Simpson at the same event in 2014 and Charley Hoffman duffing a drive at the Valero Texas Open. It happens. And it will continue to happen. But it’s how you respond that counts. Hoffman is a great example here. After scuffing his drive, he grinned to himself, saved par and wound up winning the tournament. Do you think that would have happened if he berated himself?
4) Squeeze your ball
Sometimes, you simply have to vent. That’s fine, but make sure you do it in an inoffensive way. Squeezing your ball as hard as you can is a decent remedy, as is hitting your next tee shot a little harder than usual. You might end up hitting a great drive, and if you don’t, you can satisfy yourself with the fact you might have hit a poor drive even if you weren’t trying to smash the cover off it. That’s one good thing about being a club golfer!
5) Your actions affect others
If you’ve never been affected by someone’s behaviour on the golf course, it’s probably because you’re the person making others feel uncomfortable. We’ve all been in a group where the atmosphere has been soured by someone’s temper, and it does affect the mood. Respect your playing partners by keeping things convivial. They have come for a fun day out, not to play in silence.
Related: five etiquette no-nos
6) Outburst bucket
Every time you have an angry outburst, put a pre-defined amount into an outburst bucket. Or, better still, donate that amount to the captain’s charity. And make sure it’s an amount that means something to you. You’re not going to change if you’re a millionaire who’s donating 20p every time you commit a misdemeanour.
7) Treat yourself
Got your eye on that new driver? That’s good. You can have it if you behave yourself for three rounds. Every time you slip up, you go back to the start. Simple.
8) The sock puppet
Some people resort to bizarre rituals to prevent their tempers from flaring. One such individual known to the Golf Monthly team employs a sock puppet to talk things through with after a bad hole. It helps him, and provides excellent entertainment to others. What’s not to like?
The tried and trusted. Hold all your angst in until the halfway hut, then proceed to down a couple of beers. You’ll almost certainly play better afterwards. Well, maybe you won’t, but you won’t be as bothered about your poor play!