At the end of the day, you may look at your aggregate score, but what keeps you going are the personal victories after each hole.
Keeping score is part of the game of golf and a measure of how well one did on that particular day for personal reasons or to decide how well you fared against an opponent(s). One of the biggest mistakes the vast majority of golfers make is the notion that they will shoot par at the onset of the round rather than looking at what their average score has been in the recent past. Sure, it is great to set goals, but those goals should be realistic.
For example, the player may average 10, 17 or even 28 over par. Believe me none of these players are likely to shoot par (or better) even on their best day. Rather, use your average score as “par” as a practical goal prior to firing a shot off the first tee. Let’s say the 17 over shooter happens to card 20 over for the round. Based on his or her recent score, that is only 3 strokes worse than normal and doesn’t sound dire enough to give up the game.
But let’s say the same 17 over shooter shot 15 over for the day. When you think about it that is the equivalent of 2 under their “par”. That is far more rewarding than saying, “Shucks, I played well today and was still 15 over par”. This is where the law of averages prevails and the reason why you will want play again.
Golf is so psychological that in order to succeed one has to see the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. Let’s face it golf is hard, at least for the 99% who play this game. Take the pressure off by following this logic. If you look at your scorecard, there is information aside from the hole number and its length; one of which is handicap. The handicap is a listing of the difficulty of each hole relative to one another on the golf course. If Hole #3 lists the handicap at 14, that means that of the 18 holes on the course 13 are easier and 4 are harder. It is also used when figuring out handicaps but also which hole the player gets a stroke(s) adjusted from their score. Since only 4 out of 5 players don’t maintain a handicap, we will use the latter for our example.
Our 17 over shooter may feel like they fail if they don’t shoot par on a particular hole. But for any hole with a handicap that matches (17) or lower, they are expected to shoot one stroke more than par. That is any par 3 and they realistic goal is 4, on a par 4 it become a 5 and lastly for a par 5 a 6 is a solid score.
For the player shooting 28 over par on average, here is good news for you. Your goal is one additional stoke on all holes and two strokes on any hole with a handicap 10 or less. On our sample scorecard, take a look at Hole #5. This par 4 has an 8 handicap reading meaning that your “par” is really a 6. If you drive the ball into the right rough, play a safety shot which lands short of the green, you pitch the ball onto the green and two-putt, guess what? You made a personal birdie versus a bogey (according to the scorecard).
At the end of the day, you may look at your aggregate score, but what keeps you going are the personal victories after each hole. Don’t start the day with unrealistic goals that may haunt you for the rest of the round. Just like life, every once in a while we have a bad day. But over the course of the week, month and year, things have a way of evening themselves out. If you follow this approach, you are likely to get better than regress. Maybe after 2 or 3 more rounds, that 17 over shooter is now down to a 16 over and has the yearning to get better and play more.
Courtesy: Jeff Summitt, Hireko Golf