There's nothing wrong with caring.
You care about your score.
You care about your handicap.
I bet you care about impressing your friends... and yourself, too.
It's an admirable thing, honestly! But guess what? You're caring too much.
Caring leads to consequences.
When you're faced with real consequences that can prevent you from posting a good score, you tense up. You doubt yourself. Inevitably, it seems you're destined to mess up the way you made yourself see it in you mind.
Now, it's not uncommon. I've known a lot of golfers that just don't play well. But they hit the ball good, especially when they're on the range or when they've given up on themselves.
Personally, I don't like the phrase "give up on yourself". What we're talking about here isn't about "giving up"; it's about not necessarily caring. Being "fatalistic".
Definition of "Fatalistic"
Fatalism is a philosophical doctrine that stresses the subjugation of all events or actions to destiny.
Fatalism generally refers to any of the following ideas:
- The view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do. Included in this is that humans have no power to influence the future, or indeed, their own actions. This belief is very similar to predeterminism.
- An attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable. Friedrich Nietzsche named this idea "Turkish fatalism" in his book The Wanderer and His Shadow.
- That acceptance is appropriate, rather than resistance, against inevitability. This belief is very similar to defeatism.
- Some take it to mean determinism.
In order to shoot lower scores, you gotta stop caring.
That sounds counter-intuitive, maybe even harsh. But it's true; the less you care about something, the more likely you'll do better.
Think about it this way:
When you're at the driving range, you don't have any real penalties. You don't have to worry about hitting the ball from off pine needles- and under a pine tree. You don't have to worry about that large bunker that guards the front right part of the green.
You're allowed to be free on the range. Ever notice how you can hit some incredible shots on the range, but it doesn't always translate to the course?
But you have to stop caring so much on the golf course. You have to become a Fatalistic Golfer.
How do you become a Fatalistic Golfer?
There are only so many things you can control on the course. Put the majority of your focus on what you have the most control over: yourself.
First, start with what I call the PGA Method. In a nutshell, it's your:
- Address position
These three simple things are, at the most basic level, all you need to focus on before you swing. It's very similar to my philosophy in golf club fitting: you want to be in the best possible starting point you can be.
That's what the PGA Method does for you; it starts you off on the right foot, so to speak.
Yes, there are other variables to consider. Some of them include:
- wind (direction and speed)
- elevation changes
- landing spot placement
Among others. But we're not doing a "deep dive" here; we're looking to get you to stop caring so much about the possible outcome, and focus on the stuff you can control. You may think you suck at golf, but that's because you care too much right now.
When you become a Fatalistic Golfer, you'll develop those fundamentals to the point you don't need to focus on them. From there, you can work on the more intricate parts of the game.
Why would you want to "not care"?
To be perfectly honest, "not caring" is kind of a misnomer. It's perfectly fine to care, but what you're doing by being a Fatalistic Golfer is setting yourself up from the start, then letting whatever happens happen. You exert control over the parameters you can control, then let the swing take care of itself. It's not "defeatism"; rather, it's doing everything you can, then letting fate take over.
You have to treat being on the golf course the same as if you were on the driving range.
Yes, that means that there will be bad shots. It happens; even the best golfers on the planet have some pretty massive fails! But you'll be more like them and get over them faster, because you don't care as much.
Remember, you're never truly out of a hole:
- A bad drive can lead to an awesome GIR.
- A missed green can lead to a memorable chip-in.
- A missed chip can lead to a spectacular putt.
All of this is possible, so long as you give yourself a chance!
Here's a personal story about my own fatalism on the golf course:
One day playing in my league, I cold-topped my drive on 18. It was a nasty thing that I can't even honestly say burned any worms on its way to its stopping point. As a result, the ball barely went 125 yards!
So here I am, with my second shot looking to be about 240 yards. Holy f*ck, right? Well, not if you view it as an opportunity. I bust out my 3-wood, line it up... and cold-topped that one, too.
How many of you would feel defeated at this point? Me? I'm a Fatalistic Golfer, which I'd learned from reading Phillip Moore's stuff, especially The Mad Science of Golf.
Now I'm sitting at 160 yards with a bit of an inclined green. I grab my 6-iron and give it a good smack... and it lands to about 8 feet! I make the putt, make par, and walk off a happy camper.
At no point did I give up. In short, I didn't care about the outcome; I focused on my PGA and trusted the process.
Become a Fatalistic Golfer!
Yes, this will work for you, too. Stick to the process. Mind your posture, grip, and address position. From there, just swing.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? But that's the beauty of the idea: it really is that simple. Kind of like Occam's Razor: the simplest answer is usually the correct one.
If you can learn to let go, you just might find your outcomes will improve. That leads to more scoring opportunities, and lower scores!