Effort and Acceptance in Golf
I heard a radio broadcaster ask Annika Sorenstam “What was the moment that put you on the road from being just another young player to becoming a future superstar?” She told a story about her father driving her home back from practice, stopped to watch a group practicing at the driving range, and saying “Annika, there’s no substitute for hard work.” Something changed after that.
In a conversation recently with a former LPGA professional, I was told about an interview with Ben Hogan near the time of his death. One of his regrets was that he should have thought about holing out shots instead of just getting the ball close to the flagstick. These are both glimpses into the practice, effortful, goal-driven aspects of the game.
The other part of the golf universe is well stated by Ty Webb in Caddyshack. “I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.”Of course, Ben Hogan never read our modern sports psychology which teaches the basic lesson: focus exclusively on the target (to exclude distracting thoughts), visualize the desired outcome and believe it can happen. Great advice. Practice, on the other hand, does not make perfect. Because our whole life is based on effort, we think it must also apply to golf. We think effort is always essential and necessary. With no effort we would stagnate, so we are always striving. Yet, this constant striving in golf does not usually clear away our problems. It certainly does not bring us more happiness on the golf course.
We are always working hard to change what is into what we think it should be. We are constantly struggling to avoid facing who we are, and the successful golfer is the one who recognizes understands, and accepts that. At the end of the day, the great golfers find what they need within themselves. This is not just about golf, of course.