Dealing with issues on the Golf Course

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, July 7th, 2018


Did you ever hear the story about the delivery man out in west
Texas who brought a package to a house out in the country. As he
pulled up he sees an older gentleman on the porch in his rocking
chair. A few feet away was a whining dog.
“Excuse me sir,” said the concerned delivery man to the older man
on the porch. “What’s the matter with the dog?” The old man
indifferently replied, “Oh, he’s lying on a nail.” The delivery man
asked, “Why is he doing that? Why doesn’t he just get up?” The old man
shrugged his shoulders and said,” I reckon he ain’t hurtin’ bad enough
When it comes to golf we’ve all met people like the pitiful dog
who prefers to spend time whining and complaining about their golf
game but won’t take the initiative to do something about it. Nothing
is going to change until you start hurting bad enough and decide to
correct the problem. In fact, if people spent as much time looking for
the solutions to their problems as they do complaining and making
excuses, most of their problems would disappear. Instead, they throw a
‘pity party’ and are put out when no one shows up to attend.
Life is too short to waste time and energy on such negative
thoughts, so let’s break that “old broken record” that has taken your
game into a tailspin and move on. Stop ”lying on the nail” and you can
start having fun and success on the course.
In four decades as a golf pro I’ve seen many golfers that are
too hard on themselves on the golf course. Honestly, I have been
guilty of this behavior as well but can promise you one thing…
constantly berating yourself is a recipe for disaster.
The dialogue with yourself is critical in developing as a player.
Self-talk can be encouraging or it can be detrimental, according to
how you present it to yourself. Your mind doesn’t have a sense of
humor. If you program it to do something and the message is negative,
it will respond accordingly. This is why it’s important to monitor
your inner dialogue; what you say and how you say it to yourself can
have long lasting ramifications. Even the best players in the world
are guilty of this mistake, and if they don’t make corrections
immediately, the round or tournament will be lost.
We’ve all beaten ourselves up after a bad day on the links, or
when things don’t go our way. If you watch a tournament on television,
periodically you’ll see a player bad-mouthing themselves. They might
be saying things such as, ”I’m the worst golfer in the world”, or “I
really suck at this game”, or other such expletives not printable in
this publication. Regardless of the laundry list of negatives things a
player can say to themselves, comments such as this will ultimately
bring you down. The key is to change how you talk to yourself while
practicing or playing on the course.
Over the years I’ve taught and worked with a number of wonderful
sports psychologists who provided some great insight about breaking
the negative self-talk patterns.
First, you need to be aware of situations when negative thoughts
can occur. Here’s a incredibly simple method to get back on the right
track. The next time you head out to play a round of golf, put a
handful of pennies in your right pants pocket. Not too many to weigh
you down, though. Every time, and I mean every time, you become aware
of a negative image or internal dialogue speaking poorly to yourself,
transfer one penny from the right pocket to the left. Listen, if it’s
too cumbersome to put pennies in your pants pocket try transferring
the coins from one pocket in your golf bag to another instead. By
learning to monitor thoughts, you’re on the right path to correcting
the inner demons. When finished playing, count out the number of
pennies that made the journey from one pants pocket to the other. Then
write down the total as this is an important part of the process as
Remember what words you used, and what situations prompted them.
Then, start setting new, clearer goals. In this case, the goal is to
attempt to cut down the number of negative self-talk speeches. Just
like setting goals to shoot lower scores, you need to apply this same
attitude with correcting this debilitating self-talk.
Once you have calmly re-examined the round, and outbursts of
negativity, imagine yourself reacting to those circumstances in a
different way and replacing the negative statements with positive
thoughts. Learn to laugh at yourself and say, “I can hit this shot,”
and other such positive feedback to re-enforce your own self worth not
only as a golfer, but as a person. With each round make a conscious
choice to reduce the negativity and try to remain positive by
remembering it’s only a game. With some diligent practice and
commitment, you are on the way to erasing bad thoughts that have been
sabotaging your game. Now doesn’t that make much more sense!
Finally, Here’s a true story that occurred on the golf course
that I would like to share. You and your rival are playing for the
club championship. You’ve just won the 17th hole with a birdie to tie
the match at all square and headed to the 18th tee. You proceed to
hit a perfect drive of 300 yards right down the middle of the fairway
on the par 4 hole. Your opponent, feeling the pressure, pushes his
drive to the far right of the fairway directly into the thick woods.
You go into the woods to help him look for his ball for about 5
minutes and then suddenly he tells you to go on a hit as I look a
little bit more. While walking to your ball he says,
“I’ll look a few minutes more, and if I don’t find it I’ll go
back to the tee and hit another one with the penalty stroke.”
You get your 8 iron out and hit a beautiful shot that lands
about 15 feet from the hole. Just as your ball hits the green you hear
your opponent shout “I Found it!”. Next thing you see is his ball
flying out of the woods and dropping right next to the flagstick
inches away from the hole. Now, here’s the dilemma. Do you take the
cheating bastards ball out of your pocket and confront him with it or
do you keep your mouth shut? What would you do?
Tom Ward can be contacted at


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