The concept of personal best caught my attention last week as I played golf for the second time since the pandemic started. And, of course, I sucked. Despite my husband’s coaching, I kept raising up while swinging, topping the ball. I hit some good shots, perhaps twenty percent of the time. Thankfully my momma taught me to do my best rather than be the best. Merriam Webster defines personal best as: the best achievement one has ever had.
So, I decided to look at my golf game through the lens of striving for progress, not perfection.
- Set realistic expectations.
I do have a clear idea of what I am capable of if I practiced frequently. But I suspect that goal is too high, given my propensity to avoid practice and head to the course instead. Here are the following expectations I have set while playing:
- Regardless of the par of the hole (usually 3, 4, or 5), I will take 8 shots and then quit. This is called a snowball.
- I keep score by how many balls I lose. If I don’t lose any, I’m a winner.
- Moving the ball to an easier shot is permitted because hitting a tricky shot will destroy my self-esteem.
This move allows me the opportunity to make progress rather than striving for perfection.
- Slowly leave your comfort zone.
When I look at my nascent golf career, I have left my comfort zone on a number of occasions. In the beginning, I used cheap neon-colored balls because I lost so many. Now I am confident in finding my balls and doing much better staying in the green. I have graduated from beaten up golf courses my friend calls “goat tracks” to ones that are more challenging.
Hmm. Now its time to leave the current comfort zone. What expectations should I set?
- Don’t use visualization to achieve success.
Frankly, it doesn’t work. When I stand at the tee box and imagine the ball soaring to the green and then swing—zip, nada, zilch.
- Celebrate your achievements.
My expertise is here. Jumping up and down at a great shot is my passion.
- Accept that bad days will come.
Again, I have resigned myself that I will have golf days that are dismal. Hmm. They are all in the bad category, some worse than others.
6. Ask for help when you need it.
I seldom play with my husband. On this outing he drove the cart for me, and I asked for his advice. And he did pretty good at not getting angry and yelling at me even though I made the same mistake repeatedly.
7. Don’t compare yourself with other people.
Here, I’ve completely dropped the ball (no pun intended). The girlfriend I play with was invited (but declined) to be on the University of Texas golf team. She is so good she keeps score. Its hard not to compare myself. I try not to be envious and, to keep the green monster from awakening, I just move my ball forward to where hers is.
- Make small steps towards your goals every day.
Shucks! I’ve blown this one. I’ve only played and/or practiced golf three days so far this year.
- Accept your mistakes instead of faking perfection.
You can’t fake perfection around those who ride in the golf cart with you. So, I just accept my screwups.
- Be open to new ideas and try new things – even if they’re scary.
I’ll give myself an A+ on this one. I’ve eaten iguana and alligator as well as feral hog, venison, jackalope (rabbit & antelope) sausage. I’ve gone ziplining and white-water rafting. Traveling to Cuba was also on the daring side. I’m up for any new adventure.
So, join me and my momma. Try new things. Don’t get hung up on being the best. Just make progress. Life will be more fun that way.