A Bent 7 Iron: The Damaging Effect of Frustration in Golf Course

Golf is a cruel game. It is undeniably brilliant, challenging, and deceptively simple to play yet almost impossible to master. It is a wonderful combination for competition, thrills and spills, but unfortunately can give rise to the invoking of the demon that is frustration.

Sadly, I am on all to familiar conversational terms with this embodiment of golfing negativity. In everyday life, I feel that I am a rather laid back, somewhat convivial chap. I’m happy to chat and generally have a laugh and joke about many things that other folks get into a tizz about. It would be nice if I could translate this generally calm demeanour out onto the golf course.

 

Golf-course-frustration

Admittedly, I do not have an explosive temper. If I hit my first tee shot wildly into the trees, I don’t fling my clubs away in disgust and stomp from the tee back to the car stating that I am taking up crochet instead. Instead, my frustration is what psychologists would call a ‘slow burner’, in that if I am having a poor round, these negative thoughts begin to build up in my mind, slowly battering at the walls of respectability and calm.

Eventually though, on a bad day, something will happen which will see the walls give way and out pours the frustration. So far this has resulted in a Pitching Wedge being broken over the top of my bag, a 6-iron being angrily propelled into a field of cows (then sheepishly collected again afterwards) and after three fluffed bunker shots, sending a sand wedge spiralling into a local pond where to my knowledge it rests still.

Frustration can manifest itself in lesser forms lots of ways. I’ve personally invented several new replacement swear-words on the golf course that have not been heard by any living human being before. I’ve let out an anguished cry of despair on more than one occasion, flung my clubs into the bag at a velocity that creates a sonic boom. Heard the chuntering voice of my psyche pointing out every single mistake it feels I am making and whispering during my backswing that this next shot is going to be as bad as all the others.

Golf-gouse-frustration

Occasionally though, things are just so inescapably bad that the red mists descend and violence is the only answer.

My personal favourite did not happen directly to me, but occurred with a friend who was playing in a four-ball at a local municipal course. At a relatively benign par three the erstwhile friend, named Bryan, stood over the tee. He had already endured an unusually tough day. Generally seen as the better golfer our group, Bryan was lagging behind the rest of us somewhat considerably in fourth place. As a result, he was subject to some not-so-gentlemanly ribbing from his golfing acquaintances.

Playing last at the par three after a dismal eight on the previous par five, including three putting from less than ten feet, Bryan watched as myself and two other of his friends hit relatively decent tee shots onto and around the green, before taking his place on the tee and teeing up his ball.

His first tee shot saw the ball skew horrifically right into a clump of trees surrounding a small lake. The distant ‘plop’ of ball into water confirmed that Bryan would not be searching for his ball, but would be playing another, so he did so and did exactly the same thing once again, this time causing a couple of ducks to flee the pond amidst a series of angry quacking.

By now, any pretence at golfing etiquette was out of the window as the three of us watching the drama unfold giggled heartily at Bryan’s misfortune. Trying to quieten ourselves for his third tee shot. We managed to gain some semblance of silence as Bryan prepared to play. He began his backswing, brought the club forward and… sliced the ball directly right into the pond yet again.

 

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Admittedly, we should have responded perhaps with a kindly comment of “That’s tough luck Bryan,” rather than hysterical laughter, but nothing prepared us for the sight of Bryan finally giving into to the demon of frustration. First he launched the offending 7-iron deep into the woods, (uncannily following the exact same path as his errant trio of golf balls), then kicking over his trolley and bag with a sweeping drop kick that Jackie Chan would have been proud of, all to the soundtrack of a primeval anguished scream.

For many amateur golfers, there is a split second of joy at this precise moment, when the demon of frustration is finally exorcised in one huge outburst of violent fury. Unfortunately, that satisfying feeling lasts barely a millisecond before you realise, not only do you look like a complete lunatic to every other golfer within earshot, but that you have just launched £100 of golf club deep into the woods and most likely into the pond.

Bryan’s scream of frustration quickly morphed into a look that resembled “My wife is going to murder me if I have flung an expensive golf club into the lake!” Without a word, he leapt off into the trees to find his club.

In one sense, Bryan was fortunate, his club had not followed his golf balls directly into the water, instead it had clattered into a tree and come to rest on the ground a few feet from the edge of the lake.

He picked up the club and trudged out the woods, putting his fourth ball on the tee and with barely a moment’s thought and with his frustration now exorcised and a sense of resignation setting in, swung at the ball as if he didn’t care.

The difference was palpable, the ball flew from the tee, arching high into the air, before landing gently on the green, rolling a few feet to the left, barely two feet from the hole.

 

Golf-gouse-frustration

Bryan wasn’t admiring his shot however, instead he was feverishly checking his club.

“I’ve bent the shaft…” he said aghast as we looked over his shoulder at his ball coming to rest just a few inches from the flag.

“Maybe you should have all your shafts like that, if that is how you are going to hit tee shots,” I ventured. Bryan turned to see his ball sitting very close to the pin, shrugged his shoulders and turned to us, picking his bag and trolley from off the floor, stating.

“I knew I could do it.”

And that, my friends, is why golf is so wonderful, and yet at times so frustrating.

It’s easy to condemn such violent outbursts. In the cold light of day, Bryan’s actions were at best comical and at worst, a poor response to his miserable day. Some people will have no sympathy for him and the fact that he had to pay to get a new shaft fitted to his 7-iron.

Mizuno-golf-clubs

But believe me, there are any number of golfers, both professional and amateur who understand perfectly those feelings and the key to dealing with frustration is perhaps best summed up by this quotation from former PGA Star Chris Perry:

“The worst club in my bag is my brain.”


Images by Gorilla Golf Blog©

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Comments

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Jackie Hailey September 7, 2011

Funny piece, since I’m a new comer to the game of golf, I’m sure I’ll my frustrations on the golf course.

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Pauline September 8, 2011

Pretty insightful. Thanks!

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Tommy Priest September 9, 2011

If you can control yourself, it’ll cost a whole lot less!

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Tommy Priest September 9, 2011

Thank you!

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Gareth @ Golf For Beginners September 12, 2011

I do a number of simple things to calm myself down. Counting to ten, taking my glove off slowly, drinking cold water and chewing gum. Loosing it will always cost you. I don’t think I have ever met a good “angry golfer” lol

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Tommy Priest September 14, 2011

Thanks for the recommendations. Anger is definitely counter-productive.

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