I think it’s safe to say that golf is one difficult game. Even though we love to play golf , it is hard to not get caught up in its frustrations from time to time. For some it may even be that constant challenge that keeps them coming back, but, for others it is often that frustration that drives them from the game.
Last spring I read an article in the NY Times that talked about how golf participation has pretty much stagnated over the last ten years. For every new person that starts golfing each year there is someone who quits the game. The article listed the major reasons why people quit and ,probably to no one’s surprise, most people quit golf because it is too hard to play.
I know that personally, I have contemplated quitting over the years, but, for whatever reason, I would always come back. My frustrations were most visible in my earliest years of play; years when I was hell-bent on being a great golfer. I had become proficient enough that I would have a number of holes each round where I would make pars or even birdies, but, inevitably, I would have my share of ‘others’. This would bring out behavior in me that, looking back, I was not proud of.
So, what happened? I finally realized that I was never, for whatever reasons, going to be a great golfer. In effect, I lowered my expectations and two things happened. I actually became a better (not great, but better) golfer and I sure did enjoy playing a whole lot more. I;m guessing the people that I played with enjoyed playing with me a whole lot more also.
I still get frustrated on the course. That is just my nature, but, I keep my frustrations, for the most part, in check and I am able to put them aside in a hurry. I realized that even though I couldn’t be a great golfer, I was OK with being the best golfer that I could be.
So to anyone playing golf who has hit the exasperation level, my advice is to step back and examine your own expectations. How often do you play? How often do you practice? And, most importantly, determine what part of the golfing experience is the most important to you. For some it may be the actual playing. For others it may be the camaraderie or the two to four hours away from our normal lives or it may even be the post round beers with your buddies. Once you have discovered your own expectation level, trust me, golf will once again become the passion in your life that it once was.