Addicted to golf? How do you know?

What are the warning signs for golf addiction and how do you handle?  I haven’t played in three weeks and am definitely missing it.  Once I start playing on a weekly basis, I’ll miss it even more, and worse yet, will feel like I need to dedicate more time between rounds for improvement.  The constant pull of the need to work on my game is a reminder that I’m a recovering adict.  I’ve managed the addiction in part by keeping enough busy distractions in play with the rest of my life, but when I used to work in the golf business and play six days a week, the addiction was awful.  What else would you do with your day off but work on your game?  And imagine how miserable you’d get when you were playing badly.  At the end of my golf career, I was so burned out on golf I didn’t care if I ever played again, but that was 25 years ago and my recovery period was a short one.

We all know, golf is a game that requires constant adjustments and you rarely play a round where everything clicks.  The great Ben Hogan once said that he only hit four or five perfect shots per round, and he used to practice a ton.  I can’t dedicate nearly the amount of time that Hogan did, which helps when I feel the constant urge to improve.

Is it possible to get to a place where you play two or three times per week, make a few small adjustments on the fly, and just enjoy the game without feeling the urge to work at it?  Anyone with advice on this, please share.  Thanks!

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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6 Responses to Addicted to golf? How do you know?

  1. Interesting question Brian. I would be interested to hear what your mindset is now on the course compared to what it was back when you were playing so often. Last season I really struggled with enjoying the game because I was so caught up on breaking 80. Now that I am taking a step back from that and working on the fundamentals of my game and staying focused on each shot I am starting to enjoy gold a lot more. I know the scores will come and as long as I stay focused on my fundamentals and having a positive attitude I seem to keep the frustration of wanting to get better at bay. You mentioned that in a recent round you went to the first tee with no warm up after so time off and played well. What was your midset on that first tee? I’ll bet you had little to no expectation for the round and just went out and played.

  2. brianpenn says:

    Excellent questions. I had a totally different mindset that was similar to your mental struggle to break 80. Back when I was working in the business the game of golf was work. Bad golf meant bad day at work and keeping my game at a level to compete with my peers was a terrible grind and had consumed me. I worked 10 hours at my course THEN went out to play or practice with very little energy. This is why club pros that make the cut at the PGA are so highly respected. Also had no insight into mental game techniques, plus I took some bad lessons, and didn’t know how to practice effectively.

    Fast forward 25 years and I now have learned to focus on the shot at hand. I don’t get ahead, think about score, think too much about a bad hole just played; just stay in the present. This is the biggest change and has been very beneficial.

    On the round without warm-up, my thoughts on the first tee: “Uh oh, I didn’t warm-up.” 🙂
    Now I bogeyed four of my first five but eventually loosened up and played well the rest of the round for a 6-over score. I’m very curious on how to warm-up effectively especially when pushed for time. Some of my best rounds were played by chipping and putting for 45 minutes but with no full swing contact. I’d like to find the best warm-up given 5-10 minutes. I’m thinking 10 full swings with different clubs (equivalent of five holes) then a couple lag putts for feel. Any thoughts?

    • Understanding your two mindsets should be a huge key for you moving forward if that was the case. Also, if I only had 10-15 minutes before a round I would chip, putt and work on my tempo.

      One of the drills I have used recently for tempo is very rewarding but can also be frustrating at the beginning. I went to the hardware store and got a three foot piece of thick rope. I tied a knot on one end and have practiced swinging it from the address position to my follow through. If I can get the knot to land softly under my left arm pit on the back swing and softly under my right arm pit on the follow through then my tempo will be consistent and smooth. I would give this a shot rather than try to rush some swings on the range.

      • brianpenn says:

        Good idea about the tempo thing. I have a swing doughnut that fits over any club and weighs it down. Cannot swing that fast and might help loosen up some stiffness. I also experimented last time out by doing part of my workout routine the morning of my round, but only the part that stretches or builds flexibility, not any exercises designed to strengthen. I feel a combination of this approach with some chipping and tempo drills is the key. Will try that this weekend.

  3. Hi Brian, I am in that place now, playing two or three times week, just enjoying being out there on the golf course, having fun and relishing the banter between the players. Since I learned to relax and not get serious about improving my game, guess what. I am playing better and my handicap is coming down.

  4. brianpenn says:

    Then you are where I’d like to get. Specifically, if I can ensure that I’ll have a much higher probability of striking the ball well and with more consistency, every time out, I’ll be in a better place. I know my tendency though is to seek more improvement at every level. Will probably be chasing it the rest of my days. But that’s okay.

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