Golf and the Way I Think


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Nothing has challenge the way I think like the game of golf. To be a successful golfer you must be optimistic and confident. That’s is not going to guaranty that you will be successful in every single shot you make; but without optimism and confident you won’t go too far in this sport.

            Dr. Bob Rotella, in his book, Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect, stated, “People by and large become what they think about themselves.” This is not an original thought; it is actually a Biblical principle. In Proverbs 23:7 the Bible tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” New King James Version (NKJV). We truly are what we think. As I work on my swing, club selection, the short game and all of the aspect of golf, I must keep in mind optimism and confidence. This is not a call to endorse arrogance; but a reminder of the power of our own minds; the power of the way we think.

            I am now reading a second book by Dr. Rotella, this one is entitle, The Unstoppable Golfer: Trusting Your Mind & Short Game to Achieve Greatness. Dr. Rotella makes the point that the successful golfer is psychologically strong. He explains that even as golfers do make bad shots; they do not dwell in them. He explains by stating, “Psychological hardiness is, more than anything, a choice. You decide how you are going to think, how you are going to perceive what happens in your life. You may think this is difficult, but it is one of the things that great golfers do. They remember their good shots and their triumphs.”

            I could use brutal force in any other sport; I can get angry and react accordingly and it may help me. That kind of approach does not work in golf. I must get rid of any frustration, anger, fear, insecurity, etc. and visualize greatness at all times. If I don’t, is going to cost me greatly; my shots will be consistently be in the woods or over water. On the other hand, If I do hit my ball deep into the woods or into the water; whatever the situation may be, I must stay cool; look for a way out, recover and move on. The quicker I get those horrible shots out of my mind, the better. I argue that this is a parallel with life itself. The Bible specifically tells us what to think about, Philippians 4:8 tell us,

      Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)

            The Bible encourages us to focus our minds in very specific concepts. As you can see, there is a list in this Bible verse. Our focus should be on 1) the truth. The word True means, “…real, conformed to the nature and reality of things.”[1]I am fully aware that there are many opinions out there; that it seems like the good seems to be judged as bad and the bad seems to be judged as good. Nevertheless, we know the truth. It is that truth that makes us free (John 8:32). We should not focus on the arguments; the distortions of truth or hatred against the truth; our focus should be on truth itself. 2) We must focus on whatever things are honest. The word honest means, “…to worship, venerate. Venerable, reverend… represents not only earthly dignity, but that which is derived from a higher citizenship, a heavenly one, which is the possession of all believers.[2]We must focus on God; what could be more honest? To focus on what is truly honest is an act of worship to God; it is the highest expression of our citizenship as believers. 3) We must focus on what is just; the word Just means, “Righteous, just… that which is right, conformable to right, pertaining to right, that which is just.[3]As believers our focus should be on what is right; in doing the right thing and in trusting God as our judge. God will judge all things and he will give out proper justice. When we focus on injustices we grow frustrated and bitter.

            Paul continues with this list by encouraging us to, 4) focus on whatever is pure. The word Pure refers to what is innocent or blameless. This is indeed hard to do, as we are surrounded by wickedness all around us. However, our minds must raise above all the evil in the world and focus on what is pure and blameless. In golf we must visualize good shots; we must visualize the ball going in, in our minds, we must see ourselves playing well, etc. We should not be focusing on the hazards, the sand bunkers, the water or the woods. There is no limit in our minds; we must spend time closing our eyes and see ourselves doing well. Again that will not guaranty that you will make every shot, but you will make more and more of those. Visualizing yourself doing poorly will indeed manifest in course very, very quickly. 5) We must focus on those things that are lovely. The word lovely means, what “is dear to someone, beloved. In the NT, used of things, acceptable, pleasing.[4]The mind should focus on things that are not only pleasing, but most importantly, acceptable. Focus on the good and not on the bad. It sounds simple, but how many of us have been guilty of focusing on totally unproductive things? 6) We must also focus on those things that are of good report. The word report means, “Well–spoken of, of good report, praiseworthy, laudable.[5]Sadly, in the world we live in today, bad news sells more than good news. Negative talk has become normal amongst us. However, the apostle Paul is telling us to focus on those good things that are happening. As I said before, we should not be dwelling on our bad shots, but on the good ones. Many of us continue to focus too much on our mistake of the past and are unable to focus on the good things God has done in us and through us; we must start doing so.

            Paul also speaks of our need to focus our minds on 7) Virtue, this word means,  “…moral excellency, perfection, goodness of action.[6]With the sharp decline of morals in our society it is extremely difficult to focus on such virtue. However, that is where our minds should be. We should not be conformed to the culture and fall into the mentality that justifies evil in the name of, “everybody else is doing it.” Lastly we must focus our minds and look for what is 8) Worthy of Praise, that is, anything worthy of “Applause, commendation, praise, approbation.”[7]

            When you put this list together and take a close look at it, there is no doubt that Paul wants God’s people to be optimistic; we should be the most optimistic people on earth. Golf is a game that helps us apply these principles as we play against the course’s degree of difficulty and against ourselves. Every course is different; every course has its own challenges and beauty. My newfound love for golf is challenging the way I think because I cannot be successful in golf unless I embrace optimism. Dr. Rotella in his book Golf is not a Game of Perfect states, “The correlation between thinking well and making successful shots is not 100 percent. But the correlation between thinking badly and unsuccessful shots is much higher.” We can say the same thing about the game of life.

[1]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[5]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[6]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[7]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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