Complete embarrassment to sheer delight in an instant! golf, golf pro, bad shots, responding to mistakes, routine, powerful questions, Play With the Pro Experience, Emerald Lakes Golf Course, birdie
Complete embarrassment to sheer delight in an instant!
Recently I was in a Play With the Pro Experience, where I played alongside some valued clients to let them see up close how a professional plays the game when one of them asked me, "Paul, when was the last time you hit a really bad shot while playing golf?" I had to think about it for a while because I'd broken my ankle ten months ago and hadn't played much golf since then. But I finally replied, "It's been a long time since I hit a really bad shot."
Little did I know that my answer was about to be tested!

The next day, I was back on the golf course in another Play With the Pro Experience, preparing to hit my first tee shot at Emerald Lakes Golf Course. I usually verbalise what I'm trying to do on each shot as I go through my routine so that my clients can see that even a pro doesn't hit the ball perfectly every time. Little did I know how much I was about to prove this.
I picked my club and target, and took a couple of practice swings. I set up to hit the ball, and everything was going well until I stone-cold topped my first tee shot!
This was not just a bad shot, it was a complete embarrassment in front of the clubhouse. After I stopped laughing, I couldn't help but think about the question I was asked the day before, "When was the last time you had a really bad shot when playing golf?" The answer was now right in the forefront of my mind  – just now!

However, instead of getting angry and ruining the rest of the round, I asked myself a very powerful question, "Is it possible I could hit a good shot for my next one?". The answer was a resounding yes. This put me back into a neutral state of mind quickly. I now had the opportunity to follow up with another good question, "What do I need to do right now to give myself the best chance of hitting a good shot?" The answer to this question for me is to return to my routine of Read, Plan, Do, and Review. After many years of trial and error, now know that this system works for me when I find my mind wandering away from where it needs to be. 

I hit a brilliant 5-iron from 195m that landed within 6 feet of the hole, but unfortunately, it rolled just over the back of the green. Once I got up to the green, I realised that not only had my ball rolled over the back, but it also ended up in thick, deep grass on a steep upslope. To make it worse, I was short-sighted and had very little green between me and the pin.
Rather than get angry at something I'm not in control of, I, once again, had to ask myself, "Is it possible I could hit a good shot from here?" The answer was still yes. And once again, the next question was, "What do I need to do to give myself the best chance of hitting a good shot from here?" I went back into my routine and decided to play an explosion bunker-style shot or take a big deep divot of grass and turf from under the ball, and everything comes out and lands on the green, divot, ball and all, hopefully.

I took a big swing, and a lot of dirt and turf flew up in the air. When it settled, my ball landed just short of the hole and then rolled in for a BIRDIE!!!. I couldn't believe it! I had gone from complete embarrassment to sheer delight in minutes.

So, the story's moral is that it's not about how many bad shots you hit but how you respond to them. Instead of getting angry and frustrated, ask yourself some powerful questions and use your routine to help you get back on track. You never know; you might have one of the best moments of your golfing life!