Here is a self quiz that requires a deep amount of self truth: Is it better to play for golf score or swing? Take a minute and think it over before answering. Each has its merits but what is the result of each between quantity versus quality.
Playing for Golf Score
If golf scores were not important, golf courses would not put scorecards on the steering wheels of the golf cart. Right? Handicaps would not be calculated either. Score is a goal based method of play. My goals it to break 90 today and in turn lower my handicap from 17 to 15 in two months. I now have a goal and will work to achieve. How I get there won’t be pretty?
Playing for score is mentally tougher because if I miss my goal pace by the turn I have a difficult keeping from getting discouraged. If I can maintain my mental fortitude, I feel stronger at the end of the round. So I can rely on scramble play to make up for poor shots or bad decisions as long as a few pars sneak into wipe away double bogeys.
Playing for Swing
If my goal is focused on the feel of my golf swing and the quality of my swing, the stress of the day only exists shot to shot. Once I find my rhythm, I can whistle from each shot. If i crack a 150 yard shot that goes pin high but left just off the green, that is groovy. I am happy with the flight path and aim is just a thing.
Which is Better? Why not Both?
If you have to track a score but still want to focus on swing quality, it is time to keep a mental score card. This exercise comes from Mastering Golf’s Mental Game by Dr. Michael Lardon. I completed this exercise and found it a rewarding way to see how well I was swinging during a round. Check out the write up at My First Mental Scorecard. It might be time to do it again. I can tell you that my recent drives will score me no points.
It is Up to Each Golfer
In the end, to score or judge is a decision for each golfer. I prefer to play for swing at this stage of my game with a stagnate handicap. If I can improve my swing, I enjoy the day better than if a chase a number. This will change later and back again I am sure. I leave it to the wisdom of Ty Webb:
Judge Smails: Ty, what did you shoot today?
Ty Webb: Oh, I don’t keep score.
Judge Smails: How do you judge yourself against other golfers.
Ty Webb: By height.Caddyshack (1980)