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Don't Let Type-A Tendencies Rule Your Game:

Don't let Type-A tendencies rule your game
Resist the urge to get upset with slow play in the group ahead.
by Joan A. King, Sports Hypnotist

The number one problem on golf courses today is slow play!

Golfers get annoyed with players who delay the game. Golfers say that their rhythm is impeded when they have to stand and wait. Golf courses even employ rangers whose job it is to move golfers along.

Slow play is due to many factors:
  • Looking for lost balls
  • Players taking too many strokes
  • Players who are not ready when it is their turn
  • Poor management of the order of play
  • Too much talking between shots.
Playing "start and stop" golf becomes a mental problem when it affects your attitude. Your attitude about the situation will affect your emotions. It can cause annoyance in the same way as waiting in a slow moving grocery line, or stop-and-go traffic.

Two incidents come to mind.
  • In the 1998 U.S. Women's Open, amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn was leading the tournament coming to the 18th hole. Her playing partner Se Ri Pak, hit her approach shot into the water hazard left of the green.

    Jenny waited for more than ten minutes while Pak walked back and forth to the green. Pak finally decided not to drop outside the hazard which would have incurred a penalty stroke. She took off her shoes and hit the ball out of the water.

    Pak made a spectacular shot out of the water and won the tournament. Chuasiriporn was distracted by the wait and was not able to get down in two from the fringe.

  • In the 2003 U. S. Wom,en's Open, Annika Sorestam hit her approach shot to the 18th green near the grandstands.

    Sorenstam is deliberate in all of her calculations. She took 12 minutes reviewing the situation, conversing with the USGA official, and making up her mind how to drop the ball to her best advantage.

    While she was making her decision, the eventual winner, Hilary Lunke sat on her golf bag in the middle of the 18th fairway, watching and waiting.
  • Lunke was undisturbed by the wait and had a 12-foot birdie putt for a chance to win. Her attitude was that she had waited several times during the tournament and was used to it.
She won the tournament on Monday by sinking a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole to win by one stroke in the playoff.

What is your attitude ? Are you ready for a slowdown on the course? Do you tell yourself you lose your rhythm? Do you become annoyed that it isn't moving at the pace you like?

What are the thoughts that are revolving inside your head when you have to stand and wait? In the grocery line are you judging the people in front of you who are taking up too much of "your time?"

If you think this same way on the golf course, you will become annoyed, and try to make up for the slow play by playing faster. This will sabotage your performance.

Americans are doers. 75% of our large urban population is made up of Type-A people. About half of general population is Type-A.

Type A people exhibit the following characteristics on the golf course:
  • They are easily irritated by delays.
  • They have a high degree of competitiveness.
  • They have a low tolerance for frustration.
  • They are in a hurry to finish the round.
  • They get really annoyed at themselves when they mishit shots.
  • They cannot relax without feeling guilty.
Golf requires that you change your impatient, intolerant, always-in-a-hurry behavior. While you can't change your personality, you can learn to behave in a patient, tolerant and more easygoing manner as required by the USGA Etiquette and Rules of Golf.

If you live your life in a relaxed manner, take your time, deliberate and check thoroughly before you make a decision, you are behaving more like Jack Nicklaus or Annika Sorestam. You are probably the "slow player" that the Type-A players are complaining about.

To be ready to hit when it is your turn, you need to develop a consistent pre-shot routine that you can count on. This will consistently program your mind and eliminate the need to check and double-check your thinking.

Under pressure such as slow play, fast players will speed up to make up for the delay. Their swings become fast and erratic. Slow players under pressure will slow down and become even more deliberate.

If you are a golfer who likes fast action, use the slow play as a red flag signal to change your hurried pace. Breathe deeply to relax and use the extra time to plan your shots more carefully.

If you are a Type-A person, it is not enough to just learn how to relax. You must also change your thinking, behavior and attitudes to avoid mental mistakes on the golf course.


You can improve your mental game in the following ways:
  1. Change your thinking. Behavior change begins in the mind. Slow down your mind instead of letting it race into the future "what-if" scenarios. Type As think rapidly with two or three ideas going simultaneously. Speak slowing and deliberately to yourself: "I----am---- not----going---- to----think----rapidly."
  2. Change your attitude. Most important is your attitude toward time and the sense of urgency. Decide that you will give every shot the same amount of time and attention. Consider all your options when you have a problem.
  3. Change your behavior. Improve your time management by planning to spend more than four hours on the course. Smile at your missed shots instead of being in a hurry to correct them. It is impossible to be anxious and relaxed at the same time.
    Your golf game doesn't reflect upon you as a person, but your attitude and behavior toward your golf game does!
Joan King of Jupiter is the founder and president of Positive Mental Imagery, a mental sports consulting service dedicated to helping golfers achieve their peak performances. Since 1992 she has given workshops and individual consultations to amateur and professional golfers and has produced several self-hypnosis audio tapes and CDs for golf (www.pmi4.com/cart) King can be reached at (561) 747-7276 or by e-mail (info@pmi4.com). For additional information and a free monthly mental golf newsletter, visit the PMI Web site at (www.pmi4.com)

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