I have been slowly reading Joe Parent’s Zen Golf over the past month and keep finding nuggets of gold through the pages that have inspired me in golf and in life. There are so many that I’m sure I will be blogging about this read for some time to come.
Today, though, I want to mention a specific way to make a positive change. He talks about the importance of simply being aware of the habit that you want to change by acknowledging it with a mark on the scorecard. You write down the action that you want to stop and every time you catch yourself doing it you make a mark for that hole. At the end of the round you total up the marks. Just by acknowledging the number of times you do something you can see a dramatic improvement in stopping the habit.
I was frustrated with leaving putts just short of the hole so decided to apply this method to that and had some solid results. The first round I had 8 marks on the scorecard at the end of the round. Entirely too many short putts and exactly what I was wanting to get rid of. I didn’t do anything else except make note of each time I left a ball short. The next round I ended with five marks on the card, three the 18 after that and then just one today. It’s amazing how well this worked and I plan on using it for a lot of small issues that I would like to change down the road.
To add to Joe’s method, I’ve included some consequences for myself. Being aware was one thing, but being aware and knowing that there was a negative consequence put added pressure on every putt. If I left a putt short from within 40 feet (and more than two feet short on any putt longer than 40 feet) I had to do 25 pushups that evening. The first day required 200 pushups, on top of a normal workout, which was both good for strength and enough consequence to make me think twice before leaving them short the next day. For me, this seemed to work. Acknowledgement and consequence. Every action that I want to remove comes with a price, figuring out what that price should be is part of the art of learning.