…Or How Pancake Preparation Primed my Putter
I was in trouble – and I knew it
I’d had a chance when there was only one of them…but now the other had started and my back was against the wall.
I desperately tried to think my way out of the situation…but it was no good.
They’d spotted my hesitation and recognised it as weakness. Victory was theirs, and they could taste it.
Circling, they launched their final assault.
“Can we have pancakes, Dad? Puuhleeease? Pretty please with golf on top?”
And where was my wife, in this, my hour of need? At work, so there was no way I could look for her to help, or blame her for inciting the pancake riot. I could only do what I’d known was inevitable as soon as my son joined his big sister in the clamour for pancakes.
But, as it turned out, the Geeklets had done me a favour.
Because when I was cooking, dreaming of a quiet 15 minutes to enjoy my morning coffee, I had a revelation which led to this blog post.
It all started with the Round Window
It was through this window on Playschool (the Grandaddy of all kids TV shows) I first saw a pancake being tossed.
And I just knew I had to do it.
My Mum was understandably reluctant, not least because she knew she’d be the one cleaning up the mess. But mess never entered my mind…because I never thought I’d fail.
In the end, we were both right.
We succeeded far more often than we failed.
Mum did have to clean up some spilled batter…but not nearly as much as she’d feared. And she really didn’t mind; we’d had a ball. A little pancake batter over the kitchen was a small price to pay for such inclusive family fun; even my younger brother had taken a turn. And it was fun regardless of the outcome; we laughed just as much when the pancake hit the floor as when it caught the pan.
I hadn’t even tried to flip their pancake; I’d been too worried about the potential mess on the floor. Instead I’d guddled around with a spatula and made a hash of it. In trying to avoid ruining the pancake, I’d managed to do just that. I’d even spilled batter on the hob.
“Right” I said, with enough determination to stop the kids’ squabbles, “Watch this”.
I tossed the pancake with no thought other than recreating the same feeling of joyous abandon I’d felt all those years ago. I smiled at the amazement on my kids’ faces.
And I caught it.
Each and every pancake in the batch followed suit. Instead of dreading the turn, I’d turned breakfast into a spectator sport. A wet Sunday morning suddenly became fun.
But what has this got to do with golf?
Putting is a lot like pancake-tossing; as we get older we start to dread the moment we take out the flat stick. It’s not at all uncommon to hear under-confident putters nostalgically pine for their youth, when they’d “just get up and hit a putt”. I didn’t golf until my 30′s, but even I remember playing rounds of mini-golf with a similar attitude of invincible curiosity.
Why is that? Why does putting get harder as we get older?
It’s the same problem I had with the pancakes. We’re scared of making a mess. Fear of failure swells to the point where it takes on a life of its own and dwarfs the memory of how much fun it is just to do, regardless of result.
This “failure phobia” defies reason.
Our handicap might go up, we might lose a small wager or even miss out on a chance to win a tournament. But any individual putt is but one stroke in our score, no more and no less.
Most of us don’t depend on our putting to put food on our table, but even if we did allowing fear of failure to creep in can only be unhelpful. All it will do is make our stroke more tentative, more shaky and ultimately more likely to miss.
With the pan or with the putter, fear of making a mess makes a miss more likely.
Don’t be that golfer.
Don’t fear of failure trip you up.
Instead, find your inner child…then let them putt for you.
You can trust me.
After all, when it comes to pancakes, I’m a tosser.
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