Aggression and golf. Not exactly ham and eggs is it? Golf; the most gentlemanly of games, where encouraging fellow competitors is the norm, good shots are met with an embarrassed smile and any sign of self-congratulation or celebration is often frowned upon. Then the Ryder Cup comes along and slaps these ideas in the face; full of scowling, teeth grinding, chest barging, fist pumping and crowd inciting. Not to mention probably the most enthralling 3-days in all of sport. Anyone dipping into the Ryder cup, watching golf for the first time, would think aggression is just part of playing golf at a high level like any other sport. Here we are a few weeks after the event and i’m still pondering the role of aggression in golf. Aggressive golf. Really? Could being more aggressive help you play better? What does it mean to be more aggressive anyway? Attack more pins. Psych or pump yourself up before every shot. Get intensely focussed on your target?
Aggression can manifest in different ways in different people. After all it is just a word we use to try to describe behaviours. The same word can be used to describe very different behaviours. Likewise different words can be used to describe very similar behaviours. Try ‘determined’, ‘focussed’ and ‘committed’ for example. However, it is fairly easy to imagine that someone being aggressive on the golf course is very focussed on a target and probably wouldn’t allow nerves or negative thoughts in. They are filling their mind with other thoughts.
Here are some suggestions: decide what aggressive qualities could help you. Aim to improve your self-awareness; can you notice the type of aggression that spills over into uncontrolled anger and poor decisions. I like the phrase ‘being aggressive to specific targets’ (not necessarily the pin). Reflect on what level of ‘psyched up’ allows you to play your best golf. Experiment with it. Then aim to reach this state before you start the round. Poulter might need to be at a 10 to play his best golf, Rose a 7 and Laurie might be at a 5. Where are you in this scale? How might this information help you the next time you play?