How To Curb Your Anger On The Golf Course

Are you an angry golfer? If you're looking to stop your irate outbursts, these eight tips could help you enjoy the game a bit more...

How To Curb Your Anger On The Golf Course
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you an angry golfer? If you're looking to stop your irate outbursts, these eight tips could help you enjoy the game a bit more...

How To Curb Your Anger On The Golf Course

I get it, you care about your golf. So do I. But what’s the difference? I don’t have a petulant outburst every time something goes against me.

Maybe you don’t realise, or maybe you don’t care, but it makes things extremely uncomfortable for your playing partners when you throw your club after an errant drive or vociferously chastise yourself after missing a four-footer. It happens. That’s golf. And guess what? Realising that might be the secret to lowering your scores.

Here are eight ways for you to curb your anger on the golf course…

1) Get some perspective

Why are you playing golf? Chances are it’s because it’s a hobby of yours. And hobbies are supposed to be enjoyed. Nothing of any significance in the grand scheme of things rests of any of your shots, so don’t act as if it does. You’re not a journeyman tour pro attempting to support his family while clinging to a dream. You play golf for fun. And whinging, moping and complaining aren’t fun.

2) Laughter is the best medicine

Don’t be one of those people who can’t take a joke, or can’t laugh at themselves. It really is very therapeutic when you respond to a shank by bursting into laughter. A knock-on effect is that it makes everyone in your group feel at ease, and lets them know it’s okay to respond to adversity (in golfing terms!) with humour. It really helps the group dynamic.

3) Remember your last good shot

A common psychological flaw is dwelling on your last bad shot, not your last good one – something that feeds in nicely with the glass-half-full attitude of most golfers. So next time you miss a two-footer, remind yourself that such instances are rare; next time you top a drive, remind yourself that you haven’t done that for two rounds.

Even the best players in the world hit awful shots – think Tiger Woods pulling his opening tee shot into a lake at the 2006 Ryder Cup, Webb Simpson at the same event in 2014 and Charley Hoffman duffing a drive at the Valero Texas Open in 2016. It happens. And it will continue to happen. But it’s how you respond that counts. Hoffman is a great example here. After scuffing his drive, he grinned to himself, saved par and wound up winning the tournament. Do you think that would have happened if he berated himself?

4) Squeeze your ball

Sometimes, you simply have to vent. That’s fine, but make sure you do it in an inoffensive way. Squeezing your ball as hard as you can is a decent remedy, as is hitting your next tee shot a little harder than usual. You might end up hitting a great drive, and if you don’t, you can satisfy yourself with the fact you might have hit a poor drive even if you weren’t trying to smash the cover off it. That’s one good thing about being a club golfer!

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5) Your actions affect others

If you’ve never been affected by someone’s behaviour on the golf course, it’s probably because you’re the person making others feel uncomfortable. We’ve all been in a group where the atmosphere has been soured by someone’s temper, and it does affect the mood. Respect your playing partners by keeping things convivial. They have come for a fun day out, not to play in silence.

6) Outburst bucket

Every time you have an angry outburst, put a pre-defined amount into an outburst bucket. Or, better still, donate that amount to the captain’s charity. And make sure it’s an amount that means something to you. You’re not going to change if you’re a millionaire who’s donating 20p every time you commit a misdemeanour.

7) Treat yourself

Got your eye on that new driver? That’s good. You can have it if you behave yourself for three rounds. Every time you slip up, you go back to the start. Simple.

8) Alcohol

The tried and trusted. Hold all your angst in until the halfway hut, then proceed to down a couple of beers. You’ll almost certainly play better afterwards. Well, maybe you won’t, but you won’t be as bothered about your poor play!

Nick Bonfield
Nick Bonfield

Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel with The Masters and USPGA respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email nick.bonfield@futurenet.com with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x