Even friendly humorous negative comments have a destructive influence on any system of golf improvement. For example, after a low score on a hole, the embarrassment of a misplay on the next hole leads to most destructive comment, “Well my regular game is back!” This golfer is doomed to be stuck at current handicap.
Dr. Fuller recognizes the wisdom of legendary Bobby Jones’ ideal for proper behavior at any golf event especially the Masters Golf Tournament. Here’s the message written by Mr. Jones, a man of exceptional principle:
“In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play. It is appropriate for spectators to applaud successful strokes in proportion to difficulty but excessive demonstrations by a player or his partisans are not proper because of the possible effect upon other competitors.
“Most distressing to those who love the game of golf is the applauding or cheering of misplays or misfortunes of a player. Such occurrences have been rare at the Masters but we must eliminate them entirely if our patrons are to continue to merit their reputation as the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world.” (Written April, 1967) Robert Tyre Jones Jr. (1902-1971), President in Perpetuity, Augusta National Golf Club
Not only must patrons avoid shouting utterances considered out of line, players should follow Mr. Jones’ ideal within their own mental life. To paraphrase Bobby Jones:
In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum improve play. It is appropriate for players to internally applaud their successful strokes. Golf can be difficult, so positive self-statements are appropriate. Subtle demonstrations of success by a player are proper and encourage future performance.
Most distressing to those who understand the psychology of golf performance may be negative actions or words after misplays or misfortunes of the player. Such outbursts, mark in the golfer’s mind, the stroke that caused the missed hit, ensuring that the bad stroke will reoccur. The knowledgeable player must eliminate such outbursts if the golfer is to enhance peak performance.
If you see a golfer cursing, it means he is not as good as he could be. Yelling. Screaming. Swearing. Negative or demeaning comments about a miss hit, bad swing or other flaw does more harm than good. Dominant emotions reinforce shots more that weaker emotions.
Let’s be more clear. Angry outbursts do not undo or help unlearn a swing flaw. The opposite happens. The negative or demeaning self-statement highlights the error so as to make it more likely to recur. Self-shaming does not improve performance. Better to think or say, “Next time I will do better by ———————”