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Evaluating Yourself
In light of the recent city championships, most of you who played are of mixed emotions. Some of you are pleased with the result and some are disappointed.

However, I would like to pose these questions: How do you know if you did well or poorly? And, why do you feel satisfied or disappointed? I imagine that right now you are confused by these questions, and if they weren't rhetorical, I guess this article would end here.

I believe that in order to feel happy or sad about your result, you must have had some preconceived idea of how you would fare. So I ask another question. What came first -- the thought or the action? The answer here is a little obvious, but I ask this because we, as a human species, are prone to goal setting and pre-judgment or pre-reward.

Therefore, I would like you to try this simple approach. Every time you go out to play, there is a goal of achievement as well as a particular atmosphere that is created by the nature of the competition. A city championship will stir the nerves more than a Saturday afternoon skins game. So the approach for improvement is this. Always try to best emulate the practice to the tournament. If you are playing a skins tournament, then play skins with your friends. If it is a title-caring tournament that is played over three days counting every stroke, then it is important to play this way in practice.

Please don't attempt to cram your practice play into the last week before the event, as this will only give you false expectations, be it good or bad.

I also believe that most of the competitors in the city championship are craving for more competition like this, as they believe that they would do better with this experience under their belt. If this is true, and I would be willing to play a skin for it, this only highlights my point. Match practice is going to best prepare you physically and emotionally for the real event, and those goals and expectations will be much more accurate and valuable to the cause if they are based on your true ability.

Good luck in golf and life, and remember...

It was the wise man who believed he would play as well next week as he did last week. But it was the foolish man who believed that next week he would play twice as good as he ever had before.

 ©1999 Craig Hocknull
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