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Faith WoodIt’s the long weekend and I have a tee time booked for Monday morning. This will be my first time out in the 2016 season and I want to warm up with friends before I find myself playing with my fellow Rotary members in June. This probably means that I will be playing in the rain and yet that bothers me less than imagining myself out on the course for the first time with my fellow Rotarians.

This is crazy talk really! Such negative stories we tell ourselves in the privacy of our own minds. For those of us who don’t play often, the doubts and insecurities can be tremendous. Or maybe that is reserved only for me?

I certainly recognize that a lot of business deals are successfully negotiated outside of the boardroom. And out in the sunshine on a beautiful course. This frightens me a little when I ponder whether a potential ally will judge me a poor fit if I don’t play a round of golf with grace and skill and a low score such as a more devoted player might possess.

Of course, a round of golf is a fabulous way to test whether you want to get into business with someone as well – a test of character as it were. Do they take things just a little too seriously? Do they have a propensity for cheating or exaggerating?

All good questions that can be tested out while walking along the green grass – or digging through the trees depending on how well you play. Perhaps the late great American broadcaster Paul Harvey said it best when he stated ‘Golf is a game in which you yell “fore,” shoot six, and write down five’.

Golf is a puzzling game. The objective is to strike a ball that is just sitting there. No one is attempting to steal the ball from you or knock you down, the way they do in soccer, football and rugby. So how is it that a stationary ball can prove to be so daunting to strike – at least in a straight line?

It is a predominantly mental game. To improve performance, one needs to devote a proportionate amount of time to the mental aspects. Anyone can make a great shot; the difference between the amateur and the professional is in the percentage and consistency of good shots made. When you discover the secret to mastering the ‘mental’ side of the game, you will suddenly find yourself able to:

  • Eliminate the thoughts that are sabotaging your performance
  • Become immune to distractions (including the thoughts of spectators on the first tee off)
  • Duplicate a consistent and reliable swing that holds up even under pressure
  • Stay cool and collected no matter what obstacles face you (including the trees and water hazards)

If you don’t master the mental side of the game, nothing else will really matter much, regardless of new technological breakthroughs in ball development or equipment. Strength is not required when playing golf, FOCUS is. So relax if you want to lower your score.

Change the conversation in your head if you want to play a better game (also true with other challenges we face in life). A little practice, a steady gaze and a belief in possibility will go a long way to having more fun. Once we can master that conversation, imagine what might get accomplished with the same discipline applied to other goals.

Success is all in the efforts you make, what are you focusing on?

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

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