Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Power Of Negative Thinking

I've been meaning to make some golf-related posts so here's a good place to start. I've been practising a lot lately and today I felt ready to burn the course up. First two holes, par par, today's the day ! Now, there was a competition on and the course was unusually busy with people who had waited for all the comp players to tee off. So when I was on the second green, the guy teeing off on the third, who looked vaguely familiar, suggested that I play through. I said there wasn't really any point because there were two foursomes right in front of us but we could play together if he liked. OK, he would wait for me on the 4th.

Third hole, par 3, I hit to the edge of the green and it bounced sideways off the bank and I had to hack out for a five. OK, no problem, unlucky. Then I caught up with the guy and I suddenly realised he was the guy I had referenced in a Facebook update about being happy to play with other people if they didn't constantly talk about negative things ...

Before we were half way up the 4th he was telling me "and one of my other problems is I slice the ball a lot ..." . I held it together, more or less, till the 7th where I managed to 4-putt for a 10. As the third putt rolled 5 feet past the hole the guy was laughing. I stress, not in a malicious way. Just sort of "ha ha, funny old game eh, ha ha". I honestly could have wrapped the club right round his neck. I held it together to play 8 and 9 in one over because he was promising to stop after 9 and then I might get some peace. No such luck though, and after that I played the worst back 9 ever, even after I had made an excuse on the 13th of "having to play these quickly" and left him behind. Which was actually a half truth because it had taken us 2 1/2 hours to play 12 holes, with his insistence on playing two more shots from the same spot every time he shanked one, and going off looking for them all in the bushes. The foursomes actually left us behind.

Now, that sounds like a lot of moaning and of course a good player would tune all this out, but I'm not a good player, I'm still learning (if you ever stop that is) and by the 12th I was on super life tilt listening to this guy. I'm a big fan of Dr Bob, can't recommend him highly enough. And he's a big fan of positive thoughts and words on the golf course. And in life IMO. Now, it's a fine line, you have to be realistic, you don't swagger up to every tee thinking "I'm going to birdie this hole for sure". But you try to put negative thoughts to one side. You play a bad shot, let it go, play the next one. There's a hazard in front of you, just put it out of your mind and swing cleanly through the ball. My golf partner today seemed to go out of his way, at every opportunity, to stress how difficult a hole was, how much he's struggling with a particular shot, even the odd positive thing like when he played a hole well is followed by "I'll never do that again !".

It just seems endemic in our society. There are so many people who seem to think it's impolite to talk about being good at something. Even to be good at something. More than that, that it's impolite not to constantly demean your own ability and success. The main reason I don't play live poker on a regular basis is the negativity of the people you have to play with. Same with watching football. Everyone wants to vent their anger and frustration on people around them, and indeed themselves, instead of actually working to improve themselves and become better at what they're doing. I'm starting to ramble now but if you had told me, at 20 years old, that I could become a professional poker player it would have been like telling me I could be an astronaut. But because I came across the game and loved playing so much I put so much time and effort into improving at the game that, bit by bit, I became better than I ever would have thought possible. The same is starting to happen with golf, I mean lol obviously I'm not going pro and never will, but just through constant practice and thought I am already better than I thought I could ever be.

You might be surprised what you can do if you put your mind to it, that's the bottom line. But I guarantee you that if you constantly run yourself down, and listen to people around you who want to bring everyone else down to their level [1], it won't happen.

[1] I should stress that doesn't apply to the golfer today, there was no malice in him whatsoever, he had just, in that English way, taken being self-effacing to a ridiculous extreme.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It just seems endemic in our society."

I think it's endemic to golf to be honest. A more frustrating game it would be almost impossible to invent.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without question your most misguided ever blog.

Have you become an American all of a sudden?


1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's more likely that it's not written well enough to make the right point. It is quite difficult to explain. We can discuss next time we catch up.


11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the most appealling qualities of the average Briton is self deprecation and modesty.

The guy you were playing with sounds like a decent, well meaning normal Brit.

Would you prefer it if everyone was like Bryn "(pronounced "Brin", sounds like "WIN")" Kenney?

If our poker rooms and golf courses were full of Bryn Kenney's I think life would be totally intolerable.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, he was. And no, of course I don't think that you should take it to the other extreme - I am aware of Bryn Kenney's work :-)

What you need to do is find a middle ground. I don't expect someone to say "last time I blasted this right down the middle" all the time on a golf course. But I do think many people in this country take it too far, and would rather laugh about themselves being shit than actually try to become better. It's a crutch. An excuse. And it's why we, as a country, are very ambivalent towards our (few) genuinely successful athletes.


12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By that last bit I mean that we, quite wrongly, confuse the single-mindedness and self-belief of successful athletes with arrogance and aloofness. And of course the (sports) media love to stick the boot in as well just because they're a bunch of sad, frustrated, jealous, wannabe sportsmen themselves.


12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised at the negative reactions to this post. It is entiiiirely possible to be a properly modest, self-effacing Brit yet not drip with negativity and defeatism, be it on the golf course or anywhere else.

Good post Andy.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, defeatism is a word I should have thought of, thank you. For example (I could have mentioned this too), I'm walking up to my approach shot and he says "this is the most difficult green on the course".

Now, that's not modest. That's not self-effacing. It's (thank you again anon) _defeatist_ . And obviously one hole on the course has to be the most difficult green and yes this one was it but I don't need to hear this as I'm lining up my approach. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

In the end though, I'm fortunate because I only hear it when I happen to be paired with this player, or someone like him. He hears it _all the time_, if only in his own head. If I play with the guy again, maybe I'll try to make this point, as tactfully as I can.


10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if it is the most difficult green, how could his remark be construed as being defeatist? If anything, it sounds like he's trying to help you by warning of the pitfalls that lie ahead.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Andy, 90% of golfers get beat by themselves not the course. Golf is a combination of many things but a decent attitude and improving your muscle memory will cut your score immediatly.

As for defeatism

Without question your most misguided ever blog.Have you become an American all of a sudden? the most negative man on the planet giving you stick or perhaps i'm not giving him credit for being ironic.


2:24 PM  

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