Get Mad, but Get Over It
By Dr. T. J. Tomasi, Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research
It’s not news that golfers get mad – anger is an essential part of the human condition, and, as a golf coach, I’d rather have my players angry than scared. But if I had my druthers, I want a good mix of emotions for them – just mad enough to spur them to maximum performance and just content enough to feel safe while they play well.
This is not to say that players must keep an even keel emotionally – the efficacy of the “never high/never low” emotional profile is a fallacy, mainly because golfers are a churning sea of chemicals, a sea whose composition changes based on the situation.
We are a ‘peaks-and-valleys’ species, so no matter what you do as a player, be prepared for surges of emotion. But here is the crucial point: Keeping your composure and getting angry are not mutually exclusive – the anger’s depth, duration, and intensiveness determine its value to you as a player. Golfers who love the game are too passionate to be blah, so the issue of anger in golf requires a distinction—anger management doesn’t mean anger eradication.
Here’s the problem; it’s too easy to disconnect anger and replace it with apathy. British Open champ Nick Price, who took beta blockers for high blood pressure, said that with no highs or lows in his emotional spectrum, he lost interest in the game – and “interest” is the last thing golfers want to lose. Anger is energy, so the key to anger management is to funnel your energy/anger to contribute positively to your performance. The problem is that you often sacrifice technique under full-blown anger. Your swing speed may increase when you’re hot, but your accuracy does not, which buys you a one-way ticket to Palooka Ville.
So, if anger hurts your outcomes (high scores, inconsistent performance, blow-up holes, etc.), you are not doing an excellent job of managing the resources nature has given you. Develop intervention strategies that make your anger a tool rather than a tyrant.
This has to make you mad, but you need to get angry and get over it. See my book The Thirty Second Swing for several strategies for controlling your emotions, including anger.
If you’d like to study with Dr. Tomasi and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.