The Delusion Of Consistency


Most once-a-week golfers understand that scoring in the seventies on a regular basis, requires a level of commitment, in time and resources, that is beyond reach. Achieving a level of consistency, however, now that’s another story.

Every golfer, at every skill level can develop consistency. The first step is having a clear definition.

According to the Merriam/Webster dictionary, one definition is: “an action that’s firmly established by long persistence.” This vague definition isn’t exactly what the typical golfer has in mind. If we adapt this definition to the game of golf, then the popular lament of being “consistently inconsistent” would fit perfectly.

How would you define consistency? The best hitters in baseball reach base safely one-third of the time. Hockey teams strive for a fifty-fifty win loss ratio in order to make the playoffs. Even though golf is generally acknowledged to be one of the most difficult sports to master, golfers at every skill level tend to equate consistency with perfection.

Is score the ultimate measure of consistency? Have you ever scored well but played poorly? Would you feel satisfied if this was a consistent pattern?

The distinction between playing well and scoring makes golf a unique sport. On those rare occasions when both factors come together for one fleeting moment, we might try to analyze the results in the hopes of re-creating them on demand. Invariably, the search ends with a patient resignation to “live and fight another day.”

The worlds’ best players understand that their swing changes daily, based on how they feel. This applies to an even greater degree for the once-a-week golfer. You may not have the physical dexterity to regularly hit three-hundred drives, but every golfer, at every skill level, can learn to control how they feel.

The concept of “feel” is typically used in reference to the Short Game; chipping and putting, but it applies to every single shot. Learning to trust your sense of feel, is a difficult task for the golfer who has been conditioned to play by conscious thought.

Set up a definition of consistency that will help you feel good before each game. I’ve interviewed students after a round who were ecstatic about using the same tee for 18 holes!

Improving your score is the ultimate goal, but when you focus exclusively on score, then every round becomes an emotional roller coaster. Establish different goals for the various parts of the game that allow you to feel good.

How you feel affects how you perform. Why wait until after you’ve achieved your goal to feel good?

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