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Archived Newsletters - Change Anger to Control for More Consistent Scoring:

Newsletter February 2001
Vol. II, Edition 2

Change Anger to Control for More Consistent Scoring
By Joan A. King, C.Ht.

Anger sabotages your golf game. Many golfers are motivated by anger, which results from a fear of failure. Anger produces adrenaline, which causes the golfer to become over-aroused and to forget the skills so carefully practiced. The golfer then relys on power, strength and aggression to force the game. Their arousal level is boosted above the optimum level, and balance, rhythm and thinking capabilities are lost and mistakes are made. Master Mind Golf, March 2000: Mental Arousal Level) The angrier you get, the more mistakes you make, which confirms that you really are playing poorly.

Golf is not a game where you physically "get psyched up" to play well. Golf requires that your body is relaxed and your mind is fully alert, accessing your creativity stored in your unconscious mind. When you get angry, you are centered in your critical, judgmental, analytical conscious mind.

When your anger surfaces on the golf course, it is not the feeling that causes problems. It is the undisciplined focus on the emotion and the decisions that are made in the name of feelings.

How do you control your feelings? Some people will say you just "block them out". To try and control your emotions this way is like trying to tell your heart to stop and the body to still function.

  1. Emotions are a natural expression in life.

    Anger is a natural expression that indicates we are experiencing internal conflict. Anger is usually an indicator that we are inconvenienced in our life because things aren't going as we had planned and expected. It is the same on the golf course. When the shot that we know we can hit doesn't come off as planned, the anger surfaces.

    Anger can also indicate a lack of boundaries. When someone else's behavior irritates you, the way you express your anger indicates your level of self-esteem. When someone's behavior annoys us, we may become angry when we don't tell them what is bothering us for fear we will lose their friendship.

    Denying your feelings of anger/hurt/disappointment may lead to passive aggressive behavior that escalates out of control and attacks randomly. During a round of golf, something that angered you on the first hole may increase and surface on the back nine when you vent your frustration on an innocent person.

    "Anyone can become angry; that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy".-- Aristotle, 4th Century, B.C.

  2. What do you do when you get angry?

    Because of the behavior that was acceptable in your early childhood environment, anger can be expressed in different ways. Some people who are angry express it by behavior full of rage; yelling, screaming, banging, fighting, etc. Road rage and throwing golf clubs are examples. Other people express anger by crying, or smiling, or making jokes, or becoming depressed. These are all examples of unconscious behavior habits.

  3. What causes your anger on the golf course?

    • Missed shots that you know you can hit
    • Out of bounds/penalty shots
    • People are too slow
    • People are rushing me
    • People are talking too much
    • Someone keeps telling you what to do
    • Outside Noises
    • Buried Lies in the bunkers
    • Someone questions your score
    • Someone stands in your line of sight
    • Etc.


  4. Your thoughts produce learned emotions.

    It is not the situation that causes your anger. It is the reaction you have to your perceived problem. Your reaction is caused by the thoughts you have concerning the situation. When you miss a shot who do you blame? Do you put your anger on something or someone else? Or do you take responsibility for the shot by changing your thoughts?

    It is easy to focus on the feeling of anger and attack yourself or someone else instead of approaching your feelings in a non-offensive manner.

    You can always choose responsibility and look at something a different way.

    • To choose is empowering.
    • To want is disempowering.
    • I want is a statement of lack.
    • I choose is a statement of abundance.

    In the examples above, change the anger producing thoughts to the following responsible, positive, empowering thoughts, and notice what happens to your emotions.

    Missed shots: I felt tense and indecisive. On my next shot I will prepare my mind decisively and breathe deeply to relax. Out of Bounds/Penalty Shots: I tried too hard to hit the ball further. I will take a practice swing and regain my swing timing and tempo. People are too slow: I know I am not able to control others pace. I will use their slowness as a cue for me to maintain my pace and not rush to make up for them. People are rushing me: I will listen and decide if I am holding up the pace. People are talking too much: When I focus on my routine and shot and am focused on my target, I don't hear them talking. Someone keeps telling you what to do: I choose whether to accept their advise or not. I can assertively tell them I do not need their help. Outside noises: When I hear outside noises it is a signal that I need to relax and go within my mind to focus more deeply. Buried lies in bunkers. This is why I like the game of golf. It is full of challenges. I can execute this shot with full confidence of success. Someone questions your score. I do not take this as an assault on my honor and can help to correct the difference of opinion. Someone stands in your line of sight: I can ask them as many times as necessary to move until I am comfortable with their position.

    When you choose to be responsible for your thoughts and keep them in the positive, you choose what is best for you and your game. There is no longer a need for anger because you are creating your world with your thoughts.

  5. Control Your Thoughts after You Feel the Anger
    If you haven't changed all your limiting thoughts to positive ones, situations will arise where your perception will cause irrational anger. For example, you hit a perfect shot and a gust of wind blows it into the greenside bunker where it imbeds in the sand. You get angry because of your bad luck.
Your choices are to stay angry and probably miss the shot, or you can detach from the emotion and choose to look at the situation differently. Perhaps you might remember that one of the reasons you love the game is because an inch sometimes makes the difference between perfection and disaster. In changing your outlook, you are then free to let go of the stress and focus on performing your routine and shot.

Beliefs to adopt to avoid the anger trap are:

  1. Treat anger as a normal part of life.
  2. Use your anger as an awareness to change.
  3. Change the thought that caused the anger.
  4. Know that anger sabotages your rhythm and tempo.
  5. Forgive yourself for missing the shot.
  6. Take action expressing your view, only after carefully thinking through the situation.
  7. State the anger thought clearly so others can respond appropriately.

"There are two ways of meeting difficulties; you alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them." --Phyllis Bottome

"Your workshop and tapes have helped me to relax and utilize positive imagery in my golf and tennis games. Both games have improved." Dr. Martin Kennedy, Martin Downs Golf Club

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