What I Wish I Knew Then
by Anya Alvarez
When I was a junior golfer, and even when I played collegiately and professionally, I was a perfectionist. I expected to hit every shot just the way I had planned, and would go down a mental spiral when I didn’t. After rounds, I would feel mentally drained. Because I focused so much on perfection, I didn’t focus at all on finding joy in the good shots or what I did well.
Now that I no longer play professionally, and since I’ve had time to reflect on my competitive golf days, I want to share my top three reflections so you can learn from my mistakes and get the most out of your time on the course:
1. Don’t wallow in the past
How often have you hit a bad shot during a round only to continue replaying that bad shot over and over again? During my competitive days I was the queen of doing this. If I missed a three-footer, I would tremble over my next putt thinking to myself, “Don’t miss it again.” And what would I do? I would miss the putt. Staying stuck in the past didn’t allow me to focus on what I needed to do in that moment. The fear of repeating the same bad shot crippled me, and created unnecessary anxiety. You will hit bad shots. Every golfer does, even the best in the world. As my father used to tell me, “The most important shot you hit is the one you’re hitting now.” Stay present on what you need to do in that moment, giving your full attention to shot you need to hit then. Don’t put energy into something you can’t change because the past is done, and in order to play your best, you need to focus on what you can control in the present moment.
2. Have gratitude
Playing golf is a privilege, regardless if you’re playing junior, collegiate, or professional
golf. When you take it for granted, it’s easy to miss out on so many wonderful ways golf adds value to your life. Because I was so results focused vs allowing myself to have fun, I often forgot the reasons why I started playing golf in the first place: because it added joy to joy to my life, because I loved the high I got from pulling off a crazy shot, or the feeling of making solid contact, or bombing a drive. In addition to getting to be outside, make new friends, and travel to cool places to play beautiful courses, golf gave me a vehicle to play earn a scholarship to college and graduate from school debt-free. And I promise you, when you’re an adult you will appreciate this in more ways than you can imagine. So, when you’re on the course, take the time to smell the freshly mown grass, look at the trees, take in the air, and realize how lucky you are that you get to play this game.
3. Hit every shot committed Indecision will be one of the greatest enemies you face on the golf course. I can’t tell you how many times I would stand over a shot, question my club choice or the type of shot I
planned to hit, and how I would second guess myself so much to the point that I didn’t
know what type of shot I wanted to execute, causing me to make terrible swings.
Indecision doesn’t bode well for playing a solid or consistent round if you constantly question yourself. Hit every single shot 100% committed because most of the time, if your
gut is telling you to hit a certain club or shot, it is likely the right choice. And you can’t get
down on yourself if hit a committed shot even if it turns out to be the wrong choice. Just
learn from the mistake, move on, and commit to next shot again. I’ll be sharing more reflections in the future, and stories from other players on what they’ve learned. Remember, golf is a journey and the only way to get better is to continue moving forward and learning from yourself and others.