The Golfer’s Character:  Part 1…The Ingredient for Success

by Dr Raymond Hall, DC

This article outlines, defines, and demonstrates how the game of golf exemplifies and characterizes life. It points out the good personality traits, or the “do’s,” that will carry over into your business and personal relationships. For example, honor, will, strength, and courage — these are a few characteristics that the golfer must have in his arsenal to score well both on and off the course. The article also helps identify the “don’ts,” the negative human traits that carry over into everyday affairs and are the demise of success. Which character traits do you exemplify? What does your golf game demonstrate to the other players? How can you live, learn, and grow on the golf course? How can we make the game of golf an experience that teaches us and reinforces character? What rules can you use to enhance your personal growth?

My purpose is to deliver to you some interesting concepts and present some questions that might ultimately enhance and improve your understanding about behavioral patterns of success. These concepts should make your golf game more enjoyable and your life more successful. My definition of “success” is “the ability to maximize your personal potential, and optimize your health and enjoyment of life.” Within this definition, like in the game of golf, the key to success is the mental, not the physical, aspect of your existence. Every day you can create the ambition and drive to enjoy your life and take care of your body from the time you awaken until the time you go to sleep. The essential part of a successful “swing” on and off the course is an inner sense of confidence and self-respect. These two attributes can be obtained easier than most people think — if one develops and exercises positive self-talk. Tell yourself things like: “well hit,” “well struck,” “nice putt,” “good try,” or, “at least I’m still enjoying myself.” This will enhance your mental game, which is essential to patterning your mind with good positive thoughts. Carry your golf game mental patterns into your daily lives where confidence, self-respect and strength of character are all essential. You need to practice and exercise these attributes to sustain and access them in times of need.

Another essential mind attribute is to believe that you have the strength to effectively handle adversity and face any challenge that comes before you. A good way to think about mental strength is to imagine yourself as invincible or resistant to desperation and negativity, and strong enough in mind and spirit to conquer any situation you put your mind to. Imagine yourself as a combination of strength and courage and once this happens you can couple these attributes with the essence of compassion and understanding. Be an example of a strong, courageous individual with the gifted nature of forgiveness of others and a noble acceptance of unfavorable outcomes whatever they may be. Realize and be assured that, no matter what the outcome of any given moment, there will be another day, another chance, another opportunity to live and succeed.

Golf professionals seem to universally agree that you should visualize the “perfect ball flight” before contact is ever madeThis is based on the complex yet simple theory that the body performs what the mind creates. It makes so much sense to develop and nourish our character not only for our success, but also for our health! Creating skills of the mind such as relaxation and visualization will have positive health effects like reducing stress and lowering blood pressure as well as improving athletic performance. It is just as important to take care of your mind as it is your body. In my practice, I see daily examples of the profound influence the mind has on the muscle tension, joint inflammation, and vital functions of the human body.

Another mind “skill” that we need to develop both on and off the links is sound “course management.” This requires mental strength and sound judgment. Thinking the situation through and having courage to execute what you know to be the right “shot” are the keys to this process. In golf and business, we see people “blowing up” in the heat of tension and stress only to realize latter with much regret that thoughtless “knee-jerk” type reactions usually produce unfavorable outcomes. During your game of golf, practice this notion by developing a balanced, calm, focused thought pattern. When considering the necessary shot for any particular situation, stay in the moment and execute. For example, when setting up for a shot, calmly pick your best club for all the elements of your shot. Then, once you have committed to your decision, do not second guess yourself, but rather embrace the opportunity, execute, and let it fly. To quote Jack Lemon in the movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance, “the golf game is not meant to win, only to play.”

To “play” means to simply focus and perform. It is to your advantage to consider all options and visualize the anticipated outcome but don’t get caught-up or obsessed about the results. The same could be said about life; make good, solid decisions, execute your plan, and let it fly.

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