Player diary: Overcoming a rough start

LPGA Futures Tour's Nicole Noelle Smith during a practice round. Nicole is blogging exclusively for Golfweek.com.

LPGA Futures Tour's Nicole Noelle Smith during a practice round. Nicole is blogging exclusively for Golfweek.com.

Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.

  • Arnold Palmer

Expectations. Everyone has them, whether you are setting the bar high or placing it low, you have an idea, walking to the tee box, how you believe you are going to play. But what happens when you start out with high expectations but you fail on the first hole? You think, “This is a simple hole to start out on,” then boom! You slice it into the lake on the second hole.

Then in your head an “Oh Crap” thought creeps across and shakes you a little. Plus, a bunch of people just watched you wale one over the tree line toward people on the second hole and you know they are thinking, “wow, that sucks” and now you are standing there embarrassed and trying not to show it.

Then to top it off, you walk off the hole with a double after not executing a simple up-and-down.

Great, you think, now I am even farther away from what I had expected my day would be and I have only played one hole. I know there are 17 holes left to play to make up for it and shoot that beautiful score I know I can, but it seems a lot harder now.

Sounds simple enough, there is a lot of golf left, but somehow your expectations are up there, you are already shaken, and you wonder if you can get it back.

When you start with a par or birdie it just seems to get your momentum going so much easier, because you are not making up for something right off the bat. The weird thing is there are 18 holes and if that double had been in the middle it would still be the same score, but it glares so hard when it is on the first, second or third hole.

Expectations.

If you could mentally erase everything that happened right after the shot and only had the memory written on the scorecard, you would feel better about the whole thing.

I hate looking back and feeling like I have to make up for that mistake that happened. And further sometimes I set that bar too high and expect to achieve it right in the beginning. That is just absurd, I know, but sometimes I cannot help it. I am my biggest obstacle to overcome on the course.

It is me against the course; no looking back at what has happened because it will just slow you down in the race. So you must keep your eyes looking forward at what you can make happen ahead, and accept the bounces Mother Nature gives you out there.

This week the Futures Tour is in Decatur Illinois for the Tate & Lyle Players Championship, Thursday through Sunday. You can follow on www.lpgafuturestour.com

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