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Parent’s Guide: Being Okay with Defeat, Failure & Bad Play

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

There may not be another sport in which losing is more prevalent than in golf.
Tiger Woods, one of the winningest golfers of all time, has only won about 22% of his starts on Tour. To put in perspective how phenomenal that stat is, only one other player in history (Ben Hogan) has reached a win percentage of over 20% in the events he started. Simply put, it is not easy to win in golf. Fields are large, talent is pretty deep and then there is the factor of luck.
Golfers, and young golfers in particular, as well as their parents, need to understand that
winning in golf should never be something that defines success. Golf is such an individualistic sport that really has no point of perfection..it just doesn’t exist.
Young golfers need to set individual goals and milestones to reach that help define success for them as an individual. Winning, at no point, should be a singular goal. It can be one of several ambitions, and perhaps a goal at points along your journey, but never should it be the only thing to strive for.
It is well documented that some of the best athletes in the world have used defeat as a point of learning. In golf, you should always set goals for each round that fall withins the capabilities that you have at that particular point in time in your golfing journey. You should never use another’s successes or failures as a point of comparison either. The game is too individualized for that.
As golfers, we each have our own unique set of strengths and weaknesses and an algorithm that is uniquely ours and ours alone. That should always be the focus and what helps lead us to our own individualized successes.
World renowned golf psychologist Dr Bob Rotella was quoted as saying the following:
“Golf is about how well you accept, respond to, and score with your misses much more so than it is a game of your perfect shots.”
This is why it's imperative for young golfers and their parents to understand the importance of setting and living by unique, personalized goals and milestones because there is no perfection in golf, let alone winning every time you tee it up.
What does remain consistent every time a young golfer, or any age golfer for that matter, tees it up, is the opportunity to enjoy that experience and learn from the result that comes from it.
Losing in golf is absolutely not failure, it's an opportunity to get better.. just as long as you let it be that.