Byrdman recently posted a blog on this website labelled " A New Found Love of the Game". That blog induced my response below. Here at discgolfersR.us, for whatever reason, Forum discussions are more active than Blogs. Perhaps this topic is worthy of thought and comments. Byrdman's comments are worth reading. Maybe he will join us here, too.
The thrill of competition is so intoxicating when we play well. Yet the disappointment of playing poorly is so intense when we play poorly.
There are some players, with far greater emotional control (and wisdom) than I possess, who can enjoy playing the game even when they play poorly. I am so impressed and envious of players who have that ability. I know I don't have it yet and perhaps never will.
I do NOT view a tournament round as a challenge pitting me versus the other players in my division. I also do NOT view a tournament as a challenge pitting me versus the course. The challenge is me versus myself. I have an expectation of how well I can and should perform. If I play well (based on my expectations) then I am happy and satisfied, even giddy-win, lose or draw. If I play poorly (based on my expectations) then I am disappointed or maybe even disgusted with myself-win, lose or draw.
Some people are good at hiding their emotions. I am not. When I play poorly, even in practice, I am not a happy boy. In that situation, as a matter of fairness and courtesy to others in my presence who are also striving to perform, it is my responsibility to try not to cause harm to them. The whole yelling, bag kicking, delaying the progress of the round with my emotional response is wrong and I try so hard to avoid it. Mostly I just retreat into a shell, say little or nothing and fight to overcome my own funk. There must be some way to break out of that shell. Any advice?
Is it a guarrantee that when we get mad our luck goes bad? Is it true that the madder we get the worse our luck turns out? Does every close putt bounce out when we are really pissed off?
I don't think a player has an obligation (ethically or otherwise) to be happy and jovial and fun to be around while playing. I think players have the right to be unhappy with themselves but not to overtly/purposely interfere with the others in their playing group. This is different for golf than other facets of life and other games. Some games ethically allow us to mess with our opposition ( Hey, batter, batter, batter swing! The pitcher has a rubber arm! Heckling is just part of some games and competitors have to learn to overcome it. Heckling is not accepted behavior in golf. The high standard of courtesy and ethics in golf is one of its true beauties that separates it from other endeavors.)
I had a great coach when I played racquetball tournaments (my sport prior to frisbee) and he had a very wise rule that I have adopted as my own. You have the right to be unhappy with yourself. Try not to be a jerk about it. You can be unhappy following a round, based on personal disappointment, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drop it and return to the human race. No more pouting, sulking, griping or beating yourself up after 20 minutes. Get ready for the next round.
The ability to compete absolutely requires the ability to overcome disappointment. Or one bad round will cripple you forever.
I played a doubles tournament with a friend as my partner. He is a good player and and a good guy and I have a lot of respect for him as a player and a person. He is especially good at the skill of putting. Putting is historically my biggest weakness. My goal going into the event was not to cause us to lose based on my putting. Or put another way, I hoped to putt well. ((I expect to drive well. I usually drive well. I did drive well. But driving doesn't matter much because driving does not equate to scoring well.)) As it turned out, I putted well (for me) and we did not even cash. I did not care that we didn't win. I didn't care that we didn't cash. I was a happy boy. I would be happy to play with this partner again. We didn't beat the other teams in our division. We didn't beat the course. But when I met my personal expectations and performed well under presssure, I was a happy boy. If I had sucked then I would have sulked and apologized to my partner for sucking and gotten over it 20 minutes after the round ended. Then I would have had a very cold beer.
That is another great thing about the game of golf. Even if you suck no one punishes you. Even if you suck you can still have a beer when you are done. I think the act of competing makes a person a better, stronger person: physically and emotionally.