Think back to your last round of golf. What stands out the most? For a few, it might be a perfect tee shot or a long birdie putt. But for many, it’s likely the chunked wedge or the three-putt bogey.

Golfers often say things like, “I left a few shots out there” or “I could have shot a 75, but…”. These comments usually stem from two common mistakes: dwelling on errors and having unrealistic expectations. By managing our expectations, we can enjoy the game more and potentially play better.

Negative Thoughts Dominate

Our tendency to focus on the negatives isn’t entirely our fault. According to a study by Elizabeth A. Kensinger, negative emotions enhance memory formation more than positive ones. This means our bad shots are more vivid and easier to recall. Thus, managing expectations is crucial for a balanced emotional response.

What Constitutes a Good Shot?

To redefine what a good golf shot is, let’s rely on data:

  1. Scratch golfers make just over 40% of eight-foot putts.
  2. PGA Tour players average a proximity of 16.5 feet from 60 yards and 19 feet from 100 yards.
  3. Driver dispersion on the PGA Tour is 65 yards left-to-right, with fairways averaging just over 30 yards wide.
  4. Scratch golfers average 1.5 birdies per round.

These stats might surprise you and help reset your expectations. TV broadcasts only show the best shots, skewing our perception of what’s normal.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Understanding these statistics helps us realize that many of our shots are average or better, deserving celebration rather than frustration. By aligning our expectations with reality, we can enjoy our rounds more and improve our performance. Positive and neutral emotions enhance our ability to handle adversity, leading to more fun and lower scores.

For more insights, explore works by experts like Mark Brodie, Lou Stagner, and Scott Fawcett. The better you understand the game, the more you can appreciate your own play and enjoy every round.OR get more ‘Positive’ on the course by reaching out to myself or Iain Highfield. We can help you with your mental game for golf with small but effective interventions like a good shot journal.

Have fun out there ‘coach Brandon’.