Women’s golf: Why learning the difference between consistency and repeatable processes will change your game
All golfers would love to hit the same good shots over and over, with practice, without practice, and on any type of condition and any golf course. To show up at the course and expect the 7-iron to travel its intended distance every time you play would be a dream! So many golfers arrive to my lesson tee (or therapy couch) desiring consistency. They want to make the same swing over and over, without any deviations, so they can predict where the ball will go. Sounds awesome, but I’m here to tell you it is just not possible.
Do you wake up every day with the same mood? Same level of energy? Same motivation? Same physicality? If you’re human, the answer is a definitive “No.” We are different day to day, therefore our golf swings will be different day to day, and that’s OK!
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If an athlete could be truly consistent, they would never make a mistake. Baseball pitchers would be able to throw every pitch they desired on command. Quarterbacks would never miss a throw to their receivers. Tour pros would never hit an errant shot. We have all been a witness to exhilarating Sunday afternoon tour golf, just to see a leader miss a short putt, hit a ball in the water, or bogey the last hole to lose a championship. Let me pose this question to you: If the best athletes in the world are not consistent, how can the rest of us expect to be when we head to the golf course?
From a psychological perspective, a great strategy is to directly align your skill set (i.e., your golf ability) with your expectations. If you normally shoot in the 90s, your skill set will be filled with great shots, mediocre shots, and a few horrible shots in any given round. If your skill set is directly in line with your expectations, you will experience less disappointment and frustration round to round.
So if we know we cannot be consistent, because it’s not humanly possible, what can we do to attain the “repeatability” of a satisfying golf score or shot? Fellow colleagues and top instructors Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriot suggest “being a master of variability.”
Let’s start by changing our language. Instead of trying to be consistent, could you perhaps try to be repeatable in your steps to approach the game? For example, if you take two practice putting strokes before hitting a putt, could you do that every time you approach a putt to build a repeatable process? If you stretch out and do a warm-up session before an important tournament, could you strive to repeat that process before every round? Lastly, if taking a deep breath helps you relax and focus, could you take a deep breath before executing every golf shot? This is by no means a guarantee for perfect shots all the time, because that just isn’t possible, but following your routine and repeating positive processes helps you get into a good mental state to perform your best.
As situations unfold on the golf course (i.e. rough shots, sidehill lies, different grass types, varying speeds of greens, and changing weather conditions), try to embrace the variances. Golf is not played on a perfectly flat surface 100 percent of the time with consistent weather, therefore it’s helpful to embrace the conditions as they change, and the variables as they come your way.
Look at the changes as exciting opportunities to excel. Re-word your self-statements from “Oh no. My ball is in a divot. How unfair!” to “Ok, this will be a challenge, but I know how to hit out of a divot, and this will be a fun opportunity to see how I do!” If we change our perception about adversity, that adversity will be a lot more tolerable.
The moment you give up trying to be consistent, and start accepting all the variables golf brings, you can utilize your repeatable processes to succeed.
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