Why being the “angry golfer” may kill more than your Handicap…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Common Golf Pitfalls

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———————————————————————————————————————————————–The world is a daunting place that drives its humble residents through a vast array of emotions.  Left unchecked, some of those emotions (anger), can damage much more than our ability to play golf.

It is in the spirit of this basic truth, that the Sherpa will finish a thought started in yesterday’s article about picking your “dream” foursome.  In particular, when describing the “toxic” foursome, the Sherpa called out the “Angry” Golfer.

First and foremost the Sherpa is a positive guide, and where possible, a beacon for the path to improvement (regardless of a reader’s emotional predilection).  The Sherpa, therefore, will speak to the Angry Golfer directly today in a sincere effort to help him/her understand how anger affects the game and beyond.

To qualify my opinion, I have done some research to better understand today’s thoughts.

Let me start by making a confession….

I was once an Angry Golfer (albeit on the milder side).  Yes, in his formative years, the Sherpa was once much more susceptible to converting frustration into annoyed anger..which, by the way, is the Golf Gods’ favorite pasttime.  With time, however, and a better understanding of my own mind, I am much better at modulating frustration and the myriad anger triggers we all face each day.  I, therefore, feel well qualified to speak on the subject.

Before we progress, let’s see if we can agree on the premise that incessant or toxic anger affects more than your golf.

Research shows that if you are an Angry Golfer you are more likely to:

  1. Have Higher Cholesterol
  2. Consume More Calories/Be Overweight
  3. Have High Blood Pressure
  4. Have Higher Incidence of Cancer
  5. Be Depressed
  6. Have Fewer Meaningful Social Relationships
  7. Be called out as an Angry Golfer in the Sherpa’s Golf Blog

Being an Angry “anything”, it appears can make your one shot at life a living misery frought with an entire checklist of physical, psychological and social burdens.  The Sherpa finds this tragic.

So how does the Angry Golfer develop?  This is where the research is relatively fragmented. 

  • If you look at psychological research, lack of early childhood bonding with a loving parent creates an early stress response that overdevelops and then makes the anger emotion more difficult to modulate in adulthood.
  • If you look at purely physical/biological research, experts point to an over-active sympathetic nervous system (SNS).  The SNS is the “fight or flight” part of your nervous system (i.e the part that secretes adrenalin and the stress hormone called cortisol).

My opinion, is that each of us is endowed with a certain amount of capability to manage our emotions and, to a certain extent , we can change how we react to frustration.  Research backs my opinion.  In cases,  for instance, when cancer patients were given the option of undergoing normal treatments, or treatment that included anger and stress managment, recovery was significantly better in those who chose the latter.

Since we are only trying to cure golf frustration, our bar is much lower.  Here are some steps you should take:

  1. Accept that anger (especially incessant and unchecked) is likely robbing you of more than your game.
  2. Realize that when you get angry, you secrete vast amounts of adrenaline, robbing you of feel and mental focus.
  3. Note that your behavior will limit your interactions with other golfers, making the problem worse.
  4. Make an effort to understand your anger triggers on the golf course and make a strategy to stop them from escalating. Work on it methodically, like you would putting or your swing.
  5. Learn to meditate.  This one simple skill will connect to awareness of your emotions in a way that robs them of their power over you.
  6. If you find that after focusing on anger management you still struggle with outbursts..get help, life is too short.

Bottom line:  The Sherpa is not a doctor, but honest focus on your anger and its root causes can make a big change in the quality of your game….and life.  If you still can’t get a handle on it, get help.  Life is a gift that can be easily be squandered on misery and isolation.

Play on…happily

The Sherpa

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4 Responses to “Why being the “angry golfer” may kill more than your Handicap…”

  1. markt Says:

    Dear Sherpa,
    I must admit something to you. I have not played golf, nor even touched a club in at least 3+ years. I have mostly decided that golf is an expensive, frustrating game that makes me want to do all the things on your “bad foursome” list. However, reading this blog makes me long for the “good ol’ days”. I feel like running out, grabbing my clubs and willing myself to slay my own golf dragon! So, in too many words…Thank you. God-willing, and wife-approving, I will be home swinging the sticks tonight. Even if its in the back yard with wiffle balls.

  2. The Golf Sherpa Says:

    Mark T,

    Welcome back! We (the Golf Gods and I) have missed you. 3 years is entirely too long a time to be away from such a terrific game! While the game can be frustrating at times, the Sherpa is challenging you to look at it differently in most of my posts so I am thrilled that you are now longing for the good ol days.
    If you are careful you can reduce the expense involved. In fact, if you enter my contest, chances are you might win a set of golf balls (see free Pro v1 post). As you re-enter the game, set your expectations low. Make your goal to have fun and if you are score bound then follow the following tip.

    On your next round take each hole and add a stroke to set your “adjusted par”. This way, if you reach a par four in 3 strokes and two putt, you make “par”. Seems silly, but it works. A lot of scoring tension is released and blow up holes are mitigated. As you improve you can then begin to lower your “par”.

    The Sherpa’s prescription:
    1: Read my posts
    2: Kiss your wife
    3: Grab your sticks and see if you can get a lesson on fundamentals from a local pro (30 to 50 dollars).
    4: Practice putting
    5: Take two mulligans and write me soon!

    Play on..

    The Sherpa

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