The third hole is a 525 yard uphill par 5. The right side of the fairway
is lined with trees up to the green. Apart from a fairway bunker about
225 yards off the tee, the left side is open.
Jonathan automatically slips the headcover off his driver and flings it
down on the tee behind him. Dave gives him a questioning glance.
"I think you know what I'm going to ask."
Jonathan purses his lips and taps one foot impatiently.
"It's a par 5 and I need to par this hole to salvage the round."
"Have you ever shot par for nine holes?"
"No. My best score is 42. I shot it last year, but only because I was
putting lights out. I've tried to figure out what I did, but haven't
been able to come close since. Why?"
"So what score would you be happy with today?"
"Well, low eighties would be great, but after the first two holes, I
would be happy to break ninety."
"Okay then. What if your goal for today was forty-five or better? That's
nine over par."
"You got the math right..."
"At the moment, you're three over par..."
"After only two holes! Thanks for reminding me."
Despite Jonathan's lamenting, Dave remained calm.
"True enough...but you can bogey the next six holes and still shoot
"How did you play this hole last week?"
"I sliced a drive into the woods on the right and made seven. What does
how I played last week have to do with today?"
"Actually, it has everything to do with it. If you're playing for bogey,
why are you taking out the driver when the most vivid memory you have is
slicing the tee shot out of bounds. Just wondering..."
Jonathan's eyes became slits. "You know, you can be really irritating at
"So I've been told. Let's go at this another way. What is 525 divided by
"I think you mean by 3. After all, it is a par 5."
"But what if you're playing for 6? Please humour me for a moment."
"Yeah...yeah, ok. It's 132 yards."
"What club do you have the most confidence in?"
"Well...I guess my five wood. I can count on it for about 175 yards."
"Alright then, why don't you use it?"
Jonathan couldn't think of a fitting response. All he wanted to do was
play his game. He felt like the suspect in a murder investigation. Just
to silence the third degree, he addressed the ball and hit the five
The shot travelled down the left side of the fairway and faded into the
center about 175 yards out.
"There you go. If you'd hit that same shot with the driver, you probably
would have lost a ball out of bounds."
The logic was indeniable, but logic and emotion are distant cousins.
Jonathan was still fuming inside. As they approached the ball, Dave
flipped open the notebook.
"Yeah, it ended up alright, but I didn't hit it perfect."
"If you've never shot par, then why are you upset with less than
perfection? You're confusing consistency with perfection. The first is
possible, the second isn't. What would you define as consistent?"
"Well...I don't know."
"If you lost two balls out of bounds last week and none today, that's
more consistent. The definition of consistent is constantly changing as
"For the rest of today, let's say that consistent means finishing with
the same ball you started with. Does that make sense?"
"I suppose. But what about score?"
"Good question. Do you have the scorecard?"
Jonathan withdrew the card from his back pocket. The first two holes
were outlined with a bold red circle, almost as if the scorecard were
"Thank you. You won't be need this today."
Dave tore the card into pieces and deposited them in a nearby garbage
"What the hell! How am I supposed to keep track of how much over par I
"You're not. I want you to give each shot a number out of ten, based on
how well you hit the shot. Results are secondary."
HOLE NUMBER THREE: THE LESSON
Perfection is an absolute - no shades of gray - all or nothing. It's a
standard that's predefined and beyond your control. It's a laudable goal
but one that's impossible to achieve, except by accident.
Consistency is subjective; you make up the rules. When perfection is
defined in terms of contact, then you are in control. Jonathan is
beginning to see that how a shot feels is not a guarantee of perfect
Are you beginning to see how emotion trumps logic in golf?
Excerpted from "Playing Out Of Your Mind: Moving Beyond Swing Mechanics" by Dave Johnston, B.A.Psy.. Copyright © 2014 by Dave Johnston, B.A.Psy.. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.