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Positive Mental Imagery

Tune Out Your Annoying Golf Partner:

Tune out your annoying golf partner
Joan A. King, C.Ht., P.NLP

What do you do when you are paired in golf with a person whose behavior bugs you?

This is a question I am always asked in my workshops. Because we have so much free time to think during a round, there is a lot of time to "stew" over things that bother us.

Are you bothered by someone who gets very angry and even throws clubs, or a "chatty Cathy" who is talking when it your turn to hit, or a slow player, or a complainer whose shots are never good enough? These kinds of distractions can keep you from focusing on your game.

The best way to handle these problems is to focus on the solution. For the most part, men and women handle these kinds of situations differently. Generally men handle annoyances by confronting them head on, often making fun of the person's behavior. Women, on the other hand, are afraid of hurting feelings and will find solace in talking about it to the other players in the foursome.

Here are some examples of relationship problems you might encounter on the golf course:

  • A person who never stops talking.
  • A chronic complainer.
  • A slow player.
  • A person who cheats.
  • A person who has poor golf etiquette.
  • A person (spouse) who tells you what to do.
  • A person who uses gamesmanship.
Paying attention to the annoying person and becoming emotionally involved will elevate your scores. Think of these kinds of situations as part of the process of preparing your mind, just as you do for other challenges.

If you were playing in rain you would focus on keeping your grips dry, swinging easily, and so on. When the annoying behavior breaks your concentration, take personal responsibility by using one of the following options:

#1. Ignore it. All golfers say things out of frustration and expectation. Know that we are all human and having occasional emotional outbursts is part of the game of golf.

#2. Detach yourself. Move away from the person. Get out of the cart and walk and breathe deeply to relax your mind and body. Focus your attention on all of the wonderful reasons you are playing golf.

#3. Confront the person's behavior. If the person repeats his annoying behavior, tell him how it is affecting you. Communication skills are very important here so you don't get into a shouting argument about who is right and wrong.

When communicating what you want, it is important to speak up before you are too emotionally involved in the problem. Decide what it is you to want to change and tell the other person specifically what you want, not what they should do.

If a person is standing behind you as you prepare to tee off say, "I can see you in my line of sight. Would you please stand in front of me?"

A "you" message such as "Don't you know the rules, you are supposed to stand over there?" is sure to invoke a confrontation.

#4. Use imagery to change the picture in your head. In your head, reframe the picture of the person's behavior. Instead of using your energy to "block out" his behavior, use your imagination to change the scenario inside your head.

See the person's behavior as humorous instead of something to combat. If the person is talking too much, see him as a chattering hyena or a Disney character like Elmer Fudd.

As you begin to smile at this picture, your physiology will change from anger to calm.

#5. Call it right away. The best way to handle a rule infraction or a disagreement with the score, is to call attention to it right away. If you wait while you decide whether to confront the person or not, you will become emotionally involved and have trouble concentrating on your own game.

#6. Don't play with the annoying person. The last option is to decide that you are playing golf for fun and you will not tolerate abusive behavior.

I have a client who took his cart partner's clubs off the cart in the middle of the round, put them on the ground, told the person he was through playing with him, and drove off. The rejected person later apologized for his behavior and they now play amicably.

Meanwhile, realize that patience is one of the mental keys to good golf.

Type A golfers tend to speed up their pace as the round progresses. Instead of getting annoyed or speeding up, use slow play as a red flag reminder to slow down and take more time to mentally prepare for your next shot.

On the tournament circuit we abide by the credo, "The only thing worse than slow play (or an annoying person, etc.). is talking about it!"

Talking about it constantly during the round will elevate your frustration level and eventually sabotage your game.

Tell the person who offers you swing tips, "I have a pro that I am working with. I told him I wouldn't listen to anyone else. "

When you focus on the solution rather than the problem you create change.

Golf is a game where you have to be responsible for your behavior. Without personal responsibility, there is no self-esteem. You must be responsible for how you create your life. Positive energy works more effectively than negative energy in each and every situation.

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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