It always intrigues me when I hear people say, “I play golf to relax and get away from the stress at work” and then I see the behaviours they actually display on the golf course.
We have all been there. The game doesn’t give us what we thought we deserved; the ball goes off line and a child whose toys have been taken away in the sandpit couldn’t match us for our petulant responses. It would be a brave man or woman who can say golf has never made them behave in a way that looking back is anything other than embarrassing.
I am sure we would all agree the game of golf is very much a window to our soul. Whatever we have inside of us the game of golf will tend to reveal. Consider when you get to play the game with a stranger. We shake hands on the first tee and exchange all of the usual pleasantries. You begin the round of golf and during the next three to four hours the stranger you shook hands with on the first tee begins revealing their personality to you and of course you to them. You get to see so much.
The truth is revealed bit by bit, hole by hole. We see how someone deals with adversity, how they cope with unexpected success, the warmth of their personality, their generosity of spirit or lack thereof and their ability to ride the storms of chaos the game of golf inevitably throws at us. By the conclusion of 18 holes you usually have a sense the person you have just shared the experience with is the kind of person to either give you energy or the type to drain that energy.
As much as many players would like to blame anything other than themselves, in the end the game of golf always points the finger of responsibility back at us as individuals. It would seem in this current day and age that taking responsibility is seen as something from a bygone age.
We tend to want to attribute the way we feel to other people and to circumstances. If we can lay the blame at the feet of others we often take that choice.
The crazy world that is the world of social media is awash with a culture of blame and retribution. A strong sense of wanting to take offence at the feet of another human being.
The hair trigger response when someone feels offended by the words of another.
Yet, what does this bring us in the long run? Happiness and a sense of satisfaction? It would seem not.
How to take responsibility for your golf game
To take responsibility of your place in the world is to take on a monumental burden. Yet, when we do decide to take genuine responsibility for our actions and our deeds, we put ourselves in a position that can foster genuine satisfaction.
When you decide to genuinely take responsibility you actually create the conditions to liberate yourself from the tyranny of blame and entitlement. You are suddenly set free from the shackles of wanting others or the world to behave in a certain way to suit your own perceptions. You are free to then take responsibility for your golf game; to take the decision that you want to actually develop some skills that will be hard to master but in the long run can give you endless pleasure; to take responsibility for your experience of the game regardless of what the golf ball may or may not be doing on any singular occasion; to take responsibility for your reactions to what the golf ball does is again to bear a heavy load.
Yet, what is the alternative? To react like a spoilt child because the golf ball is not doing what you think it should? It is much, much easier to abstain from taking responsibility than it is to embrace it.
Yet, just imagine if the game of golf provided you with a huge laboratory full of equipment designed to test you in ways that shape the whole of your life? If you can take responsibility for the way you experience the game of golf and the way the game occurs to you then you can explore taking responsibility for the whole shooting match of your life.
Karl Morris is a mind coach to a number of European Tour stars and the brains behind the Mind Factor.