I'm checking in after playing a round of golf recently where I intentional went in with the goal of having full acceptance.
The weather was anything but ideal. It was low-40s temperature and extremely wet on the ground. I think we had gotten at least an inch of rain the previous day. My hands felt nearly numb from the cold for over half the round. I was wearing so many layers that I felt like I could barely swing.
BUT - I can say with full honesty that despite the less-than-ideal conditions I had a lot of fun.
And I really believe it was because I went in with the mentality of accepting anything that happens and simply spending some time with a friend.
And also despite the rough weather, I was playing pretty good, hitting the ball well, and rolling putts right on my line. So it's actually hard for me to tell whether I played well because I was accepting and having fun, or I had fun and accepted things because I was playing well. Either way, I did both.
But what can you learn from this experience of mine? How can you take what I just did, apply it to your game, and make your scores and enjoyment of the game better?
Through this experience I learned a really good way to pre-accept an outcome. But first, what do I mean by "pre-acceptance"? Pre-acceptance is the ability to accept an outcome before the outcome ever happens. Usually when people talk about acceptance it's the mentality you should have after you hit a bad shot so you can move on. But pre-acceptance is arguable more important. Because if you're already in the mentality of pre-accepting an outcome, the outcome won't bother you no matter what it is. And this actually allows you swing or putt more freely.
If you're already in the mentality of pre-accepting an outcome, the outcome won't bother you no matter what it is.
Have you ever heard or experienced the concept that if your short game and putting is good you can have more freedom and confidence on your approach shots? Because you know that your short game can bail you out of a bad spot if you hit a lousy iron shot, you can feel better over the iron shot. This is a form of pre-acceptance. You can accept a bad iron shot before the iron shot ever happens, and as a result you have more freedom and confidence over the ball.
So, back to the pre-acceptance technique that I learned during this recent round. It was something I was doing during my pre-shot routine - the time that I was spending immediately before hitting the ball. And it wasn't something that I told myself to do. It was something that I noticed myself naturally doing, most likely out of the mentality that I had going in of acceptance and fun.
I noticed myself kind of having a smile on my face on my last look at the target before pulling the trigger on my swing or putt. It was almost as if I was mentally saying, "This is so cool. This is an awesome opportunity. This is so fun. It doesn't matter where this goes I'm going to enjoy it." So if I truly believed those things, and I did, of course I would smile.
And then I would hit. And if the ball was flying through the air towards a bad spot I would mentally (and actually sometimes verbally) say "It's ok. No self-judgement. It will be a fun challenge."
So having the smile on my face before hitting the ball changed my whole demeanor, and I believe it actually helped me swing more freely and confidently. Because we can all agree we play our best when we're free and confident, as opposed to tense and doubtful.
Try this. The next time you play, first go in with a mentality of acceptance. And if you're finding it difficult to stay in that frame of mind, incorporate a little smile into your pre-shot routine. It doesn't have to be unnatural and forced. Because if you truly believe yourself when you think "It doesn't matter where this goes because this is so cool and it's an awesome opportunity." then that smile will be very natural.