By WISP Ediquete Ambassador Kendra Vallone
I played a practice round once and was paired with someone else who had never played the course. We talked throughout the round and I was playing pretty solid, hitting all the fairways, avoiding bunkers, and basically putting the ball where I wanted (or thought I wanted, considering that I was seeing the course for the first time).
When we hit the turn (tenth tee), we were paired with a guy who was a member of the course and felt obliged to give us the ins and outs of the course. I always appreciate inside information, but I realized I was suddenly hitting the ball all over the place, missing it in bunkers I wouldn’t have even noticed, and basically throwing my confidence out the window.
It took me a few holes to realize that on every tee, as I was lining up my shot, this guy would constantly tell me where NOT to hit the ball, which suddenly draws my attention to all the things that I should be avoiding. My main focus should be, “hit the fairway,” not “don’t go left into the bunker.”
It’s strange, but it seems to me that the mind, for whatever reason, is immune to the word “don’t.” Have you ever noticed that your brain erases the negative from pretty much every message it receives? For example, if I say, “don’t think of the word yellow”…your mind instantly goes to the color yellow. The word “don’t” doesn’t stop you from doing something; therefore, it’s important to use positive reinforcement in order to make the important thoughts stronger than any other messages being thrown at you.
As soon as I realized what effect the negative messages were having on my game, I took what my new playing partner was saying and interpreted it from “don’t go left” to “stay on the right side”. That powerful change made all the difference.
So next time you’re on the tee, tell the ball it’s going there (to the fairway), rather than telling it to avoid a water hazard. I guarantee it will save you a few shots!