What type of shot do you need to hit to be happy? Or even satisfied? Many golfers, as they strive to improve correctly set their standards high. However, these high standards will eventually corrupt their mental approach as they can only be satisfied with a perfect shot followed by a perfect outcome. They only accept perfection! Not a recipe for cultivating a positive attitude.
Having read about Hunter Mahan's change in attitude over the past few months that culminated in his victory yesterday over world number two Rory McIlroy at the WGC Accenture Match Play, I thought today would be an opportune time to share an approach I recently learned from Dr. Morris Pickens.
During the course of a round, any shot you play can only have one of four outcomes: a good shot with a good result; a good shot with a poor result; a poor shot with a good result; or a poor shot with a poor result. Four possible combinations! How many of these four cause a negative reaction from you?
The above chart illustrates the four possible combinations. We can all deal with quadrant 1 and we should be upset with quadrant 4, but how do you respond to quadrants 2 and 3? When playing golf we all prepare and work toward good shots and good results, yet we know that will never always be the case. In fact, there has never been a round of golf played where every shot and result has been good. We will always encounter adversity at some point and need to be accepting of certain results that are less than perfect. A perfectionist only accepts one option - that quickly leads to frustration and one unhappy and disgruntled golfer.
I am not advocating that as golfers we should never get upset - quadrant 4 will take care of that. I do believe however, that with a better understanding of the big picture, we must learn to accept less than stellar shots that work out (quadrant 3) and good shots that don't (quadrant 2) as part of the game that we play. When you can do that you are growing and improving, as a golfer.