In my early years of playing this wonderful sport, I had one of the weakest minds that I had ever seen on the golf course. The only thing I would release more than clubs from my hands were the profanities that came soon after it. My emotions were controlled entirely by how well I was playing at the time. I would let the smallest of factors bother me in my attempt to post a good score.
I would start my round by making a double-bogey 6 on a simple par-4, and consequently, I’d feel the need to force the issue on the following holes. I would stand over my ball with no focus or plan whatsoever. On top of this, I would attempt to swing harder and faster than I normally would. If you’ve ever tried this, you can attest to the fact that swinging harder only makes things worse. By the start of the fifth hole, I’d be 9-over par and have no interest in counting the rest of my round because the damage was already done (or so I thought).I was an arrogant golfer who thought that the entire course revolved around me.
Everyone else, on-course staff included, needed to be silent in order for me to hit a quality shot. I would tee-up a ball and make sure that the maintenance worker about 400 yards away stopped cutting the grass to ensure that there weren’t any distractions. After making a few practice swings, I’d hook my driver into the trees about 180 yards out and then followed it up with a bank of excuses that had no relevance to the situation. What kind of selfish mentality is that? Could you imagine if the on-course maintenance crew had to stop working every time someone that far away was about to hit a shot (and a poor one, at that)? A round of golf would take an entire day!
Growing up, I played almost every sport. I always considered myself as an athlete. I looked forward to waking up early every day before school so that I can sit on the couch and watch TSN (The Sports Network) in order to catch up on all the major highlights. Recreationally, I played everything from basketball to baseball to hockey. I was even honoured with the MVP award in my senior year of high school for my talents with the school soccer team. Simply put, sports were the norm for me. That is, until a few years ago.
All of a sudden, I no longer had the strength or endurance to play major sports for long periods of time. Issues began to arise in my lower back, in ways that I had never experienced. Being the stubborn person that I am, I avoided consulting a professional; I assumed it would pass. The problem was, it never did. As a matter of fact, it only got worse, and faster than I imagined it would.
In 2012, I was playing in a small competitive soccer league with some friends when I suddenly fell to the ground because the lower back pain was unbearable. Not only did I have to stop playing, I was carried to my car because I couldn’t even stand on my feet. For the next 6 weeks, I laid alone in my apartment, wondering if I would ever be able to walk again, let alone play sports. I could tell that my negative attitude was making me very unpleasant towards anyone who came to visit. That is when I decided it was time to take action. Did I want to continue sulking in my own misery or did I want to better myself and take charge of the situation? Personally, I chose health over misery.
I went to a chiropractor, stretched as well as occasional physiotherapy. Before you knew it, I was back on the golf course and ready to play. This time though, things were different. I was no longer bothered by errant tee shots, missed putts or employees who were simply doing their job. I was just happy to be able to play the outdoor sport I love. My average score back in 2011 was in the low 80’s. I was considered a low-to-mid handicapper who had plenty of flaws in his game, the biggest of which was between my ears.
Join me next time, as I walk you through my mental game, and how it improved so quickly!
Shauheen Nakhjavani is a golf teaching professional in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is 25 years young and has plenty of accolades in his short golf career but it’s nothing compared to what he wants to achieve when everything is said and done. He has more interesting stories that he would like to share with you about the mental and physical side of golf.
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