• Alistair Tait

Golf Journal Or Horrible Histories?


Interesting suggestion in Gary Nicol and Karl Morris’ excellent book The Lost Art of the Short Game. However, you’ll have to go a bit old fashioned to ensure the suggestion lives up to the book’s tag line.


Nothing wrong with old fashioned every once in a while.


The tag line under the book title suggests opening up your potential if you adhere to what’s inside the pages. It reads:

“Discover what is truly possible for YOU around the greens.”

Nicol and Morris’s words on page 17 will ring true for most. They write:

“You might be carrying a personal story laden with a lot of baggage and bad memories of poorly executed chip shots, pitches and bunker shots…”

Welcome to my world! They continue:

“… but that should not prevent you from striving for or indeed achieving, short game excellence in future.
“In our previous books, The Lost Art of Putting and The Lost Art of Playing Golf, we talked about the power of ‘Your Story.’ … If you keep telling yourself that you are a no-good loser with your wedges, you will not only start to believe that story, but your subconscious will go in search of evidence to support that narrative.
“What the thinker thinks, the prover proves. Sooner or later, you will continue to play out the story that has been holding you back until now.
“As long as you are the author of that story, you have the ability to take control of it.”

Here comes the interesting suggestion:

“Before you go any further, we strongly suggest you grab a notebook and pen and write out your story so far.”

Prepare for War and Peace in my case, and probably for most reading this too. The authors are so convinced this will help that they suggest:

“Invest in a good quality notebook and use a nice pen – trust us on this, it makes all the difference. This journal will be something you can add to and refer back to over the coming weeks, months and years. It will become absolutely vital if you are to achieve sustainable, improved short game and scoring performance.”

Ah, the power of the pen.


Keeping a golf journal might sound a bit old fashioned for many brought up on smart phones, iPads and lap tops. It’s hard to see many people picking up a pen and putting it to paper given all the devices we seemingly need to get through modern life. Admit it, when was the last time you picked up a pen and wrote down your feelings, or even a letter.


Nicol and Morris’ journal suggestion is not as outlandish as it sounds. Søren Kjeldsen has chronicled every round he’s played since he was 11 years old. The Dane doesn’t just keep the standard fare of fairways, greens, putts, sand saves, etc. No, he goes much deeper.

“You play, you analyse and then you adjust. I do that every day. I write everything down. I’m a little bit of a geek. I’ve got statistics from every round I’ve played since I was 11 years old.
“If you can learn from everything, that’s when you’re in a good place.”

It’s paid off for Kjeldsen. Despite his diminutive size, he’s a four–time European Tour winner.


I have a Jim Nelford book in my library entitled Season’s in a Golfer’s Life. Nelford won the 1980 World Cup for Canada along with Dan Halldorson. He had two second place finishes on the PGA Tour in the 1980s before a waterskiing injury curtailed his playing career. His book provides a fascinating insight into life as a tour professional, especially "Appendix I: The 1982 Tour Journal," in which Nelford goes deep into his thoughts and feelings from his year on tour.


This writer isn’t short of a quality notebooks and pens. So I’m going to take the plunge, starting with tomorrow’s round over the Marquess course at Woburn Golf Club.


What do I have to lose?


Will it produce a readable golf journal that leads to improvement or become just a series of horrible histories?


I’ll soon find out.


#JustSaying: “It is … in the mind and not the body that the cause of every golfing ailment is to be sought, and this being so, it is the mind which requires treatment and not the body.” Major G. F. Mappin

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