Dealing with Anger as a Golfer

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May 14, 2019
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May 20, 2019

Dealing with Anger as a Golfer

Golf can lead to a range of emotions; frustration and anger are normal and here is a 3-step process to deal with negative emotions.
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Written By:

Sara Robinson

Sara is a Mental Skills Coach specializing in work with athletes. She received her M.A. in Sports Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and did her undergraduate work at New York University. Sara also helps support busy working moms develop their mental skills and create more balance at getmombalanced.com.

Have you ever thrown a club? Yelled an expletive on the course (or muttered it under your breath)?

Maybe you haven’t gone to those extremes, but chances are, you’ve gotten angry on the course.

The reality is, golf can be a frustrating sport.

Sport and emotions go together: both the positive emotions, like joy and excitement, and the negative ones, like frustration and anger. Whether it’s a shot that looks like it’s going in—it should go in—and then, it doesn’t; a partner who regularly talks on your backswing when you’ve asked them not to; or a golfing slump—there are times where you may find that you’re angry on the course or after a round.

The flip side of this is that golf is an amazing sport where you can be outside, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and being a part of a positive experience.

However, it’s normal for frustration or negativity to take over, even under the best of circumstances.

And while anger is an emotion that we’re going to experience at some point in time, it’s important to know how to handle it because if you don’t, you might find that you become the person throwing clubs and yelling (or you’re yelling at yourself internally and that’s not good either).

 

What if you’re mad on the golf course?

Step 1: Know your habits

It’s important to know what your habits are when it comes to anger. We all have things that trigger us, and our body has ways of letting us know we’re upset. Take the time to consider what situations lead you to see red, and how your mind and body respond in those situations.

Step 2: Plan ahead

Once you’ve built awareness about what is likely to happen to you when you’re angry, and what generally causes that, you can come up with a plan of attack. Think proactively and reactively.

What can you proactively do to minimize the chance of those negative emotions? Can you add some deep breaths to your pre-shot routine, or perhaps stop paying attention to score for a while? The proactive plan is trying to avoid the trigger or minimize its impact; reactively you want to have a plan for how to react when you have been triggered.

Will you step away from the cart and reflect on the beautiful scenery? Can you distract yourself by talking to your fellow golfers? Can you stretch and repeat a mantra like “The shot is done, move onto the next”?

Having a plan in place will help you reduce the situations that cause anger and then deal with them more effectively.

Step 3: Use your plan

The best plans mean nothing if they’re not used. So be sure to remind yourself about your plan and use it on the course and in the situations you reflected on in step 1. Also, look for times off the course where you can use these ideas to strengthen your ability to manage these big emotions.

 

Remember that it’s normal to let your emotions get the best of you from time to time, but with planning and practice, you can get better at dealing with anger, frustration, and negativity.

 

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Leslie Sosebee

My anger doesn’t come from a bad shot, necessarily; It’s who I’m with when I make a bad shot. When I am with good friends, I just laugh and move on. But when I am playing with people I don’t know (at least not well) I get angry – and yes, I’ve thrown a club or two. Not surprisingly, I also play much better when I am with friends than with strangers! My biggest gripe about golf is that if you don’t have a foursome, they are going to put you with people you don’t even know and expect you… Read more »