Ever since I started playing this fantastic yet frustrating game, I have been acutely aware of my incompetence at it. Fortunately, with the handicapping system, my ability to compete against others, myself, the course and the elements has always brought me back for more.
A well-known quote from Walter Hagen caught my attention and puts things into perspective. One of the all time greats who dominated the game in the 20’s and competed successfully over a 30 year period, said… ”I expect to make at least seven mistakes a round, therefore when I make a bad shot, I don’t worry about it, it’s just one of the seven.”
For the touring professional six or seven mistakes costs a lot in terms of the leader board position. To the scratch golfer, it’s a good few over. To the single figure golfer, not breaking 80 and to us less accomplished golfers not reaching our goals of breaking 90, 100 or 110.
Whenever I sit down and go over my score card, I inevitably find I’m 6 or 7 shots above my goal and looking back I can identify each one…the wayward tee shot, the topped fairway wood, the thin long iron, the chunked pitch, the fat flop shot, the skulled chip over the green and the pulled or pushed putt. It’s frustrating.
My 40-year search for improvement (I started late), which has been interrupted by life getting in the way, has been interesting. In 1994 (having taken up the game in 1982,) I applied for and was granted a patent (US Patent # 5375844) for a training device that I developed for improving my own golf game. It was based on the need to master the essential elements of the golf swing, strike and stroke. Research revealed that a successful shot was dependent on focused concentration, a steady and level head, a consistent spine angle, a steady center, persistent focus on the ball, witnessing impact and a follow through.
The patent expired some years ago and my device has and will be copied. I’m not too concerned about that, as it means golfers are practicing and hopefully improving and achieving their golfing goals. All the advances in ball and club technology only benefit those who have mastered and can consistently perform the essential elements… that equates to approximately 5% of those who play.