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Why Quick Tips Won't Fix Your Golf Game

My philosophy is that in order to change your behavior you first have to change your beliefs. You can't change your behavior first and that lead to a change in beliefs.

You have to find balance in life before you can accept results. You can't magically force yourself to accept results until you have become someone that is even able to do such a thing.

You have to realize that you are part of something bigger than golf.

A big part of this is identity. Who do you identify yourself as? When someone asks “So who is (insert name)?” how do you answer? If your identity is wrapped up in golf and results and how good you are, then you will be too attached. Wrapping your identity up in golf means when your golf game is good, you’re good. But when golf is bad, it affects you personally and changes your personality. In order to change the behavior of being attached to results, you first have to change your identity. You have to realize that you are part of something bigger than golf. If golf is the biggest and most important thing in your life, then your actions will follow. But if golf is just one part of your life, and you even see it as a small part, then a bad shot will seem inconsequential. And perhaps even more importantly, a good shot will seem inconsequential. Because you know that a bad shot won’t change who you are.

That’s when you get in trouble. When you start to question who you are as a result of some thing you do in golf. When you have a bogey or a bad round or a bad tournament or a bad season, you question your motives and your purpose and whether this is something you should even be doing. You must ground yourself in a solid foundation so that whether good things or bad things happen, you’ll still be who you are. And you’ll know that nothing can change that.

That’s right, I never had a significant other all through high school and college.

For me, this came in the form of a girlfriend. Now, don’t read this as you have to have a significant other to be a complete person or to have a balanced life. I believe that is not true, but I think you should follow the principle, because I believe the principle is true. I played competitive golf with a goal of playing professionally from age 12 to 26, and never had a girlfriend. That’s right, I never had a significant other all through high school and college. That’s because I was a golfer. Every decision I made was with golf in mind. Should I go see this movie? Or should I stay home and hit balls into a net? Should I go on this beach trip? Or should I cater a wedding to make some money to have more money to play golf? Should I study hard and have a good GPA? Why would I do that if I’m always going to be a golfer?

So I was completely out of balance, swinging heavily toward golf being the only thing that mattered in my life.

But I believe that my then girlfriend (now wife) Kayla showed me what balance looks like. The attention that she took away from golf actually made me a better player. All of the sudden golf didn’t seem so do or die, because there were other things that mattered more.

I say all of the sudden, but this wasn’t an overnight realization. I fought it at first, because I felt my grip on golf almost forcibly being loosened. If you’re a diehard golfer then you probably know this feeling. You feel like you’re gonna lose golf. And a golfer without golf feels empty. But that’s what Kayla helped show me: that I wasn’t a golfer. I’m a person who plays golf, and this distinction makes all the difference. Because when golf is just a part of who you are, things can come and go like water passing under a bridge. And the freedom this brings translates into your swing, your reactions on the course, your productivity in practice, and probably most importantly, your enjoyment of the game.

I didn’t first change my behaviors. I first changed my belief. This deep, foundational change in belief therefore changed my behaviors.

You can introduce quick fixes and tips, but they won’t stick until it encompasses who you are. This is the only way to make lasting change.

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