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The Plateau
Due to the fact that I have been playing competitive golf for several years, I have gathered a great deal of experience. Some of these things I learned when I had a 27 handicap and some of them I learned yesterday. However, one thing that has bugged me for the entire period of time is "the plateau." We all reach one, whether it's when we are stuck shooting 90 or 70.

The actual score is insignificant in regard to the amount of frustration experienced by everyone when they can't break through that barrier. Can you remember the first time you broke 100 or 50 for 9 holes? It was a fantastic feeling, and more so a tremendous relief. So why is it such an accomplishment to go from a 101 to a 99? Why weren't you as happy when you went from a 105 to a 103? It's the same number of strokes! So why do we get nervous trying to shoot that 99 and not the 103? I can tell you that it is a mystery, but I do have a theory.

This theory is based on goal setting, preconceived ideas and milestones that seem logical in the process of improvement. Basically it comes down to comfort level and fear. I know it seems weird, but most competitors, when searching for the key to improvement, must tackle this obstacle. "Am I scared to succeed or to fail?" is usually the question, but what is the difference really? All they both mean is that you are scared of the end result. And why is this so? Because we place so much emphasis on the result of all competition! And obviously the end result is what determines who wins or loses, but thinking about it while you are playing can ultimately decide the outcome to be unfavorable.

Because we have so much time during a round that we are not actually physically hitting the ball, this time is often spent trying to predict what our outcome will be. To remedy this dilemma, you can do a couple of things. You can give yourself a pep talk and decide that whatever happens, happens. You don't care what your end result is, so what is there to be concerned or scared about, as long as you try on each shot?

This approach must be consistent, whether you make a birdie or a triple bogey on the first hole. The other approach is to distract yourself by making golf your secondary reason for being outdoors. Make socialization, fun, business or bird watching your priority and hit your shots in between as a side line activity. This approach will prove extremely valuable when the field of play is moving slowly. Just use the same principle as you do when driving. If you dwell on the driving and not on the music or conversation, your trip will seem to take forever. So remember -- time flies when you're having fun.


"Golf is not just exercise, it is an adventure, a romance ... a Shakespeare play in which disaster and comedy are intertwined and you have to live with the consequences"

 ©1999 Craig Hocknull
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