I cannot remember exactly the first time I uttered the precious words, “I am a golfer” out loud, but when I started to believe them in my heart, my life was transformed—literally!

I used to be that woman, like many of us, who played golf recreationally with friends but hesitated to call herself a golfer because she did not have the confidence that her game was “good enough”. After working with over 2,000 women through the Latina Golfers Association programs, I found that a lot of other women felt the same way I did about their identity as golfers no matter how well or how often they played.

It took many rounds of playing with “real golfers” for me to realize that most were still growing their skills like I was. It seemed that most “real golfers” have no problem jumping into the game, looking the part, and claiming their place as golfers. And frankly, this realization upset me. I asked myself, “Why can’t that be me?”

The bottom line is that most of us who hesitate to call ourselves golfers are probably perfectionists on and off the course. We do not apply for jobs unless we are able to check every box on the description. We do not go for the promotions we know we deserve until we repeatedly go above and beyond. We strive for perfection, and if we are not as good as the pros, we feel like frauds for claiming otherwise.

But you do not have to be good at the game to be a golfer. Whether you have played golf once or a thousand times, you are a golfer. There is no certificate issued by any golf association that separates the “real golfers” from the people who just so happen to play golf. Only you can do that by shifting your mindset and accepting your identity as a golfer. We must embody it, we must identify with it, and we must claim it.

You are a golfer. Your skills or experiences have nothing to do with it.

I chuckle now when I reflect on how I used to compare myself to a golf pro! My newly found attitude played a pivotal role in helping me find my place in a new city. I began to say “yes” more to invitations for golf outings. I have turned golf foursomes into a tightly knit network of people willing to open doors for me and help me out when I needed it.

I would not have had the opportunity for such good friends without first bonding with them as a golfer. Being a golfer provides us with a common language and shared experiences that help us make unique connections.

If you are still having trouble embracing the phrase, next time you go to the golf course before your round take some time to watch the other players tee off to see just how well the average “real golfer” plays. I have incorporated this exercise at our golf clinics, and I love to see how our participants’ self-confidence jumps up a few notches when they see for themselves that many “real golfers” are not perfect players.

Today, I find a way to tell everyone I meet that I am a golfer. I would shout it from the rooftops if I could. If you have not claimed the title yet, do not hold yourself back one moment longer! I promise, you will not regret it.