By Guest Author – David Bryce
How to Avoid Stress on the Golf Course
When I ask many of my golfing buddies about why it is they enjoy the game so much, I typically get a variation of the following answer: “It reduces my stress.” That makes perfect sense; most doctors recommend physical activity of some kind to diminish the effects that stress can have on all of our lives.
Golf is a perfect sport for people looking to reduce stress levels, especially for those in the upper age brackets. Let’s face it, people over the age of 50 can’t, or at least shouldn’t, be playing contact football, fun though it may be. Golf is not a contact sport, but you get a healthy amount of walking done, and it’s gives you the chance to be outdoors in (hopefully) fresh air with some of your closest friends.
Yet I’ve had some people tell me that as much as they enjoy golf, it actually serves to increase stress. While this has rarely been the case for me, I can actually understand why. Golf is a game of patience, and it takes a long time to acquire the necessary skills. Those with a competitive streak may not have the kind of patience to withstand all of the bad shots and marks in the loss column. There are ways to reduce these stress levels on the course however.
Avoid Competition (if you can)
The first thing to be wary of is competition. Of course, no one wants to go onto the golf course and stink up the place. Activities usually aren’t as enjoyable the more unskilled you are at that activity. But like I said in the introduction, golf is not a game that can be picked up overnight. It’s a game that requires a lifetime of learning.
Tiger Woods is one of the greatest players to ever pick up a 7 iron, and that’s largely because his father has been instructing him since the early age of two. Yet I’m sure if you asked even Woods he would say that there are still things he has to learn.
So if you’re golfing with your friends, don’t make it a competition with them; make it a competition with yourself. The better you get, the better you will feel on the course. Don’t worry that your friend has a vastly superior chip shot and can regularly get within ten feet of the hole. Just do your best and enjoy your company as opposed to compete with them.
Golf with Friends, Not Co-Workers
The people you are golfing with can have an enormous impact on your game. Of course, one of the big stereotypes about golf is that it is a something of a work activity, a sport for businessmen if you will. This stereotype isn’t entirely inaccurate; a lot of business is done on the links. But if you are looking to simply relax and have fun with 18 holes, it’s best to keep the office out of the game.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have your work friends along with you, but I would advise steering the conversation away from work. Even for those who really enjoy their work, office talk seems to frequently turn negative. The more negative you are in your spirits, the more likely you are to let a subpar game get to you.
Let It Out
A good way to reduce stress in general, not just in sport, is to let it out as it comes in. If you’re disappointed in yourself due to a poor approach shot, don’t be afraid to let out a little sigh of disgust. One of the worst things that we can let stress due to us is to let it build up incrementally to the point where it overwhelms us and we overreact in an unfortunate manner.
After a paltry performance all day, I witnessed one golfing buddy of mine not only throw the club in hand straight into the nearby pond, but even went through the trouble to unsheathe another one of his irons to do precisely the same. Needless to say, this was a decision he would later regret. That’s why it’s important to let out the stress as it comes in and to move on.
There’s no reason golf shouldn’t be an enjoyable exercise. It’s a time to play a wonderful game, to get some exercise in the beautiful outdoors and to spend time with people important to you. Don’t let the stress that the can bring with it get to you.
David Bryce is an online publisher for Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson, MO. He blogs on the topics of golf, travel, and vacations.