Why I Love To Fail

Why I Love to Fail
A topic that I’ve been running across a lot recently is the positive side of failure (a couple examples can be found HERE and HERE and HERE). Traditionally failure is viewed with negative connotations, with very little focus on it’s benefits. Let’s take a look at this quote:

Edison Quote

What does this have to do with golf?

As someone who talks to lots of golfers, I rarely come across someone with this mindset. That’s really unfortunate because research into how we learn shows that embracing failure and possessing the grit to overcome it are characteristics of the top performers in every field.

On my very first golf swing I completely missed the ball, and you know what happened? I laughed about it, and by the end of the session I was routinely hitting the ball in the air. The failure didn’t bother me, I wasn’t even embarrassed about missing the ball. I was a twelve year old kid who had never touched a club in my life, what more could I expect! By not being embarrassed by my failures, but instead learning from them and using them as motivation to get better, my golf game improved rapidly.

Unfortunately, as we get older this embracing of our failures is increasingly difficult. Honestly, this fear of other peoples perception is why more people don’t take up the game at a later age. Watch any adult beginning golfer after they make a mistake.  You can see them quickly look around to see if anyone noticed. The crazy thing is, these are the folks that are brave enough to come out and give the game a try. Just think of all the people who don’t overcome this fear and never even pick up a club? Compare this to junior golfers, who could care less how it looks.  All they want to do is see that ball fly high and far. If they miss the ball, it’s only seconds before they’re taking another swing.

What’s the result? Those kids quickly learn how to hit a golf ball, and often times develop perfect fundamentals with very little instruction.  It’s truly remarkable!!

I’m not a beginner, why do I care…

This fear of failure goes way past the beginning stage in golf. It seems the more experienced the player, the harder failure is to overcome. Watch how most golfers use the range – take one club and hit it at the same target over and over until you hit a few good balls, then grab another club and do the same thing, repeat until out of range balls. What did they learn? Will this practice session show any improvement on the golf course?


Why is this the case? It’s the lack of negative consequences presented with this type of training. You may hit bad shots, but you have the next ball sitting there to cure your mistake so there is no chance of failure. That option to hit another ball significantly decreases your incentive to execute the present shot perfectly. This is totally different from the course where a bad shot could mean a lost ball and a penalty!

How can I apply it to my golf game?

For starters, CHALLENGE YOURSELF. To achieve success you’ve got to make yourself uncomfortable:

Comfort zone

When evaluating your practice session ask yourself, did I push myself and get outside of my comfort zone? If you answer YES, than you’ve just had a great session.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to implement this into your practice, here’s a drill you can try to improve shots around the green:

Step 1: Take 7 golf balls and choose a hole to chip towards
Step 2: Define 4 scoring zones and assign a score to each zone. For example, in the hole (4 points), 1ft from hole (3 points), 3ft from hole (2 points),and 5ft from hole (1 point)
Step 3: Determine a target score for your skill. It’s very important that you choose a score that is right on the edge of your ability level. If the target score is too easy you will become bored very quickly.
Step 4: Hit the 7 balls and track your score

Games like this can be applied to every aspect of the game. For an added benefit you’ll start to find your practice more fun thus increasing your desire to practice more often.


Failure and mistakes have been given a bad reputation. Instead you need to celebrate your failures and learn from your mistakes. The necessity to fail must be incorporated into every aspect of your golf training.

If you want to PLAY BETTER GOLF, you need to let failure be your motivator and not your detractor. Click To Tweet

Game Changing Video

If you enjoyed this topic and want to dive a little deeper, check out this video from the Train Ugly blog (http://trainugly.com)

Posted in Junior Golf, Mental Game, off-season golf

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