My Golfer’s Syndrome – Giddy from Anticipation Golf Performance Anxiety

Golfing anticipation has definitely resulted in performance anxiety on the golf course in my case.

Golfing anticipation has definitely resulted in performance anxiety on the golf course.

Sometimes, I literally can’t wait to get on the golf course.  Try as I might not to think about it too much, the anticipation tends to overwhelm my mind, and eventually trying to concentrate on anything other than golf becomes futile.  This is my Golfer’s Syndrome.

Over the past year, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, self-analysis, and evaluation, and reached several irrefutable conclusions.  One fundamental truth I’ve accepted is that when I have a big round of golf scheduled, it dominates every corner of my mind.

It can be a round with a friend I’m really looking forward to catching up with or a new or big-name course that I’m excited to play for the first time that gets my adrenaline going hours before I even think about heading to the course.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but knowing that I'd be paired with strangers after a week of having golf courses to myself doomed me to a lackluster performance at the Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but knowing that I’d be paired with strangers after a week of having golf courses to myself doomed me to a lackluster performance at the Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes.

It happened at least a week before last year’s Alabama trip to play Oxmoor Valley and Silver Lakes from the Robert Trent Jones Trail.  It struck weeks before this year’s Hilton Head trip.  It definitely set in the entire week leading up to Cog Hill #4 last year.  I tried to fight it as the StoneCrest road trip approached. And it has begun to set in for this year’s Hawaii trip.

One would think that the Syndrome could be an asset, allowing me to clear the clutter from my mind and get mentally prepared for my round of golf.  Unfortunately, in years past, the Syndrome has had the exact opposite effect.

I would get so excited and want to play so well that I would end up “wanting it” too much.  By the time I would finally get onto the golf course, my expectations would be built up to completely unattainable levels, leading to pressing, tension, anxiety, and generally a series of miserable swings.

As much as I really wanted to play well on Hilton Head, having a few new fundamentals to fall back on made a huge difference in my execution on the courses.

As much as I really wanted to play well on Hilton Head, having a few new fundamentals to fall back on made a huge difference in my execution on the courses.

My fate would be sealed before I pulled the first tee from my golf bag.  I have been the utter opposite of a “money player.” The self-effacing humor aside, my game really was as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle.

In Alabama and Chicago last year, at least I had the presence of mind to recognize early in each round that it was “going to one of those days.”  Despite throwing up some enormous numbers, I stilled enjoyed each round because I could quickly reach acceptance of my fate and concentrate on enjoy my friends’ company and try to appreciate the course and scenery.

Luckily, the more fundamentally sound swing I’ve been working on this year appears to have a minimizing effect on my Syndrome.  Despite looking forward to the Hilton Head trip for months, and having it occupy the entirety of my brain for a full week or more before actually heading south, I played surprisingly well, even under difficult conditions.

While I slid back into old habits in the subsequent weeks following the trip, my experience at StoneCrest, which I was anticipating as much as any round this year, lets me think perhaps I can keep the Syndrome under control with proper practice and swing maintenance going forward.

Every once in a while, it really isn't my fault: nothing good happens in 30 mph winds at Lakeside G.C.

Every once in a while, it really isn’t my fault: nothing good happens in 30 mph winds at Lakeside G.C.

The Syndrome rarely jumps up and bites me at my home course, or while playing a round with some of my regular, long time golfing buddies.  But if it’s someplace special, out of my normal rotation and comfort zone, that’s definitely when I’m most susceptible to its effects.

I’d like to think it’s just a repeating series of coincidences caused by a lack of local knowledge at unfamiliar courses.  But I know better, it really is just something that is a part of me.

The confidence I’m developing in the new swing helps, though I’m open to any dime-store psychology strategies that may prevent me from psyching myself out in the future.  So, I’m interested to know if you, Dear Readers, ever experience a similar phenomenon in your golf games and how you dealt with it, for better or worse.

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6 thoughts on “My Golfer’s Syndrome – Giddy from Anticipation Golf Performance Anxiety

  1. Dave, we’ve all been guilty of over preparation for big golf trips or anticipated rounds at nice courses. I used to do the same for my annual trip to Myrtle Beach. But remember we have day jobs and are not PGA Tour professionals and can’t dedicate the time needed to preparing in detail for specific venues, so why try? Two years ago, I tried something new and focused purely on physical fitness prior to my May trip to Myrtle and didn’t hit one bucket of practice balls other than to warm up before rounds. The result was refreshing. Lower expectations and a more enjoyable trip; not to mention how much better I felt from working on strength training and endurance. Regarding course management during the anticipated event, try to club down so you can make aggressive swings on conservative plays. Hit more 3WDs and long irons off the tee and you’ll keep the ball in play and inevitably enjoy yourself more. Good luck! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave

    Brian took the words right out of my mouth! On other point that will may help with preparation is play a couple of games of monkey golf before you go. Take 4 clubs (recommend 3w, 5i, PW, Putter) and play golf. You would be surprised at the results and your score. Additionally, it would take your mind off trying to awesome golf going into your trip. It helps with course management and lowering expectations….

    Cheers
    Jim

    Like

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