How many of us are afflicted with the mannerisms we often see from tour players. Probably all of us at some time in our playing careers if not every time we play. Most athletes in sports accept they will make mistakes. Baseball players will strike out, miss ground balls, or make throwing errors. It is part of the box scoring system. Tennis players will miss shots totally or hit the net. Football player’s drop passes, quarterbacks throw errant balls and running backs occasionally fumble.
They all accept it as part of the game they play. You will seldom see them stare at their hands when the ball falls through or check their racket to make sure there are no strings missing. Sure, they will sometimes tap their hands on the strings to reassure themselves the strings are attached and sound but it is so non-descript, almost unconscious.
But watching golf is like tuning into a world of disbelief. What mythical force was at work to create such deception and turn potential reality into total fantasy in that moment of time and space. Something or someone of higher power had obviously interceded blemishing what was perfection and simplicity, a granted right of exclusivity to stardom, fame, and wealth in a sport that does not allow professional athletes to make mistakes.
Watch the missed putts. It doesn’t matter the length. The player will invariably stare at the rolling ball after it has missed the hole and come to a stop. Stunned, the arm will come up and the hand will gesture what should have been the expected roll, not the one just witnessed. The line was perfect but somehow the ball didn’t know what that line was and the green really can’t be hiding information from the players. But sure enough they will not admit their mistake. It’s easier to look elsewhere for the root cause of the errors.
Sometimes they will stare down the putter. How could you have hit such a shot? The putter did it. Not the butler. It’s sometimes so bad they break, bend or just plain throw them into the water. Some even appear to be spanking their putter as some kind of paternal punishment for bad behavior. If only the putter knew what the player knew then they could be working in idealistic harmony.
Then there are the moments a player will look to the heavens for answers. How in the world did that just happen? Is there no divine guidance for shots like that? Did I really do that or was He involved in that errant shot exhibition? When answers don’t seem to be forthcoming there are the glances at the spectators. The head darts from side to side in a frantic quest to deny all present of your total disbelief and receive confirmation that your strategy and shot execution were precision like and the ball should have gone in. But it didn’t. Maybe it was the clubs fault for not being square at impact
We all tend to characterize tour professionals as Superhero’s. We expect them to live up to our perception of them as a body or group that is above the rest of us. Yet while they make the difficult look easy they, too, are just human like everyone else. They have taught themselves to never dwell on the negative and too always focus on the positives. But as humans the mind is a devious instrument that wants to always work against us. It is telling us we made mistakes during the round and we are trying to shout back that we didn’t.
It is a constant battle and a most interesting one. You can often tell the ones losing the battle just by their mannerisms which will reflect in their demeanor. Watch for it during the next tournament.