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Golf Australia Express : Issue 33
talking to yourself.” Focusing on the positives— such as the vast width of the fairway rather than the water left or houses right—will help you swing freely and become a happier golfer. AFTER CHATTING WITH the happy Doc for some time, you get the feeling he’d be a royal Pain-In-The-A playing partner—mainly because what he’s saying is absolutely right. In fact his educated view on golf shows just how hard we amateurs can be on ourselves. According to Dr Parent, golfers are unhappy because we: • COMPARE our scores to par: “That’s not really appropriate for a recreational golfer.” • ARE UNREALISTIC about the quality of our shots — “The average distance a PGA Tour player ends up to the hole from 115 yards is 20 feet 6 inches. They’re not as good as you think, and you’re not as bad as you think.” • HAVE HIGHER standards than the great Ben Hogan did — “Hogan only had to hit three shots exactly as he intended to be happy with his round. Should our standards be higher than Ben Hogan’s standards for quality golf shots?” • ARE NEGATIVE about what confronts us: “Everybody focuses on what can go wrong. It makes you tense and uptight and less fun.” OKDOC. SO WHAT’S YOUR prescription for Happy Golf? “You can take your golf seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously,” he says. “Frankly, nobody else really cares about you [on course]. You think they’re all watching your game—all they really care about is their own game. “People judge you less by the quality of your shot and more by the quality [of the way] you handle yourself. “I think making [golf] more ofagameandlessofalife and death struggle is going to make it better for everybody.” He suggests working out a “personal par” based on your handicap or on your true skill level, and actually writing the adjusted par on each hole on your scorecard before teeing off. Taking pressure off yourself allows a more relaxed round and you might just find you’ve shot close to or under par after 18 holes. That’s sure to make you a happy chappy. Speaking of, which touring pros does Dr Parent think embody the Happy Golf mentality? “I think the young guys who don’t get so caught up in mechanics and technique; who really are playing for the joy of playing are the ones to watch. “Rory McIlroy; you can tell he delights in the game. Bubba Watson—just won the Masters—he can’t hit the ball straight. He only knows TIPS FOR HAPPIER GOLF LOSE THE SCORECARD At least for a few rounds. After experiencing the freedom of golf without consequence you’ll realise how much unnecessary stress you normally put on yourself with each and every swing out there. When you don’t score, you’ll remember your good shots of the round—the key to ingraining long-term positive thoughts when standing over the pill. But when we count our swings, we tend to focus on the mistakes— the duffs, the missed 3-footers—and that ultimately affects our game. BREATHE It might sound obvious, but breathing could be the key to unlocking your Happy Golfer within. Poor swings are often caused by tension in the body arising from worry about dropping shots (see point 1), fear of hitting over a water hazard or an array of silly concern on course. A few slow, deep breaths before each swing will help you relax and ease tension, allowing you to swing more freely. A looser golfer (not in the Tiger sense of course) is a happier golfer. SLOW DOWN It’s not a race out there. But with all the hype about Slow Play we’ve become a bunch of regular Speedy Gonzalez’s. The result? More wayward shots, more time spent looking for lost balls, and ultimately more frustrated golfers. Golf is a leisure activity for all of us except the pros, so make it a leisurely stroll. By taking some time to enjoy your game you’ll actually spend less time on the course and more time smiling over a cold one at the 19th. COVER STORY THE