How obsession is affecting your score!

I am an enthusiastic cyclist. I would go as far to say it is my number one passion outside of golf. As competitive as I am, I made the decision for it to remain a hobby, no competitions for me – I know I would end up making compromises with the other responsibilities in my life. Despite this lack of ‘dedication’ I have improved in my performance, become healthier, made friends and relish each ride. In this article we explore the implications of a competitive mindset towards your golf.


In cycling there is no savior for possessing the intangible ‘natural talent’ or ‘hand-eye’ co-ordination so prevalent in golf lexicon, In cycling you ‘must’ do a certain volume of training to be able to perform. How can your mindset towards practice affect your results on the course?

New research with amateur cyclists analysed by Dr Justin Coulson, has attempted to understand their habits, intentions and importantly their mental well-being. The study determined if they had an ‘obsessive’ approach or a ‘harmonious’ approach. It found that a harmonious approach resulted in a better life-balance. The removal of internal excessive pressure created more flow in the performance.


Obsession is defined as an ‘an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind’.  Obsession in not healthy, it implies a lack of overall awareness, a desperation to achieve, with the exclusion of everything else. This dedication may work in the short term but will lead to problems eventually.


Harmonious is defined as ‘forming a pleasing or consistent whole. free from disagreement or dissent’. There is no internal conflict this way, there is no ‘I must’ or ‘I need’ in your self-talk. You are free to do what feels best on the day. If you ‘need’ to hit 300 balls a day you are less likely to rest a niggling injury for instance.


What if you become obsessed with an aspect of your game? What if you perceive putting to be your greatest weakness and begin a mission to solve it. ‘I need to putt better to lower my handicap’ is an affirmation that will implant itself more and more frequently. You change your technique multiple times looking for the secret and you become so involved in the outcome of every putt. This desperate focus is well intentioned but can easily lead to over anxiety and worse performance. This is a likely cause for players with the ‘yips’.


And what if you were a ‘harmonious’ putter? You may perceive your putting to be your greatest weakness and seek to improve it. What can you do that doesn’t involve a strict do or don’t list of technique change? How can you improve without an obsession over the result of the putt?

Harmony implies a degree of happiness or contentment. This emotion can easily be accessed when we are being creative, for example in putting when we are experimenting with different methods. Which method feels the most natural? Who is your favourite putter to watch? What can you do to replicate how they ‘feel’?


Hopefully the above information has provided an insight in your approach to golf. Instead of a black or white, pass or fail mentality to your game, seek harmony and passion. Those who excel, who reach the nirvana of peak performance, who are able to improve at this difficult game, exude an obvious enthusiasm. Even if you rely on the game for your living, obsession is detrimental to your overall performance.

Be creative, be intuitive to be enthusiastic. Play or practice because you are willing to embrace the challenge. If it ever feels like a medication you need to take, something you have to succeed at, the odds are against you. Avoid internal conflict, avoid placing needless pressure on your performance. Play harmonious golf and lower that handicap!

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