My Golf Ball Made it to The Lake! Hell Yeah!! | The Mental Toughness Coach - Chris Dorris

My Golf Ball Made it to The Lake! Hell Yeah!!

In 1994, when I was first considering entering the field of Mental Toughness Training, I decided to conduct an informal experiment at a local golf course. My experiment involved “selective attention” and “selective interpretation”. I had a theory/hypothesis, and I wanted to test it. I’ll tell you what it was in a minute. But first I’ll explain my little experiment.

On a busy summer Saturday, the golf course was full of youngsters and adults alike, I stood behind the 18th green with 2 clipboards. Each clipboard had a piece of paper with a T-chart on it. The two columns on the T-Charts were (+) and (-), that is, one column represented positive responses and the other negative responses. One clipboard was for young children (9 years old and younger), and the other was for adults (18 and older).

I asked everyone a simple, open-ended question as they walked off the final, 18th hole: “How’d it go?” And if they responded with something optimistic, I’d make a check mark in the positive column, and if they responded with something negative, I’d mark the negative column.

(I know you know where I’m going with this.)

What did the adults have to say?


They said things that I don’t want to print. They said things like this (but with a lot of foul language in it):

“I suck. I don’t know why I play this game.”

“It would’ve been good if I could putt to save my life.”

“Played good on the front and managed to screw it up on the back – as usual.”

“Where’s the bar?”

In fact, 99% of the adult responses were negative. The only exception was when someone had an unusually great scoring round. THEN they permitted themselves to say something pleasant, but only under that specific circumstance.

The children, on the other hand, had these things to say:

“I finally saw the snapping turtle in the pond on #6! It’s HUGE! I always thought you guys were lying about that!”

“You should have seen the putt I made on #2! It must have been a hundred feet long with three breaks in it! It was AWESOME!” (NOTE: that happened over four hours ago. And it’s the very first thing that this child effortlessly recalls. And it’s good.)

“I hit the ball so far off of 16 tee, my ball went in the lake!!!” (The kid was pumped! Any adult that hits the ball in the lake is getting pissed off and thinking, “I finally catch one good and I get screwed!”)

The kids’ responses were exceptionally positive. So what was my hypothesis? It was that there’s a shift in focus from youth to adulthood. A shift in perspective. And it’s an unmasterful shift. A shift in how we view the world.

As youngsters – before we’re conditioned to do otherwise – we view the world in an inspiring way. We selectively attend to things that inspire us, AND we selectively interpret events in ways that inspire us.

With time, we are subjected to conditioning, some of which influences us to shift away from noticing the beauty and the magic and the greatness, to shift away from the inspirational interpretations of what is, and to instead notice what we wish was different and to interpret events in uninspiring ways.This is so important for two reasons. One, it’s nice to feel inspired. Two, when we are inspired, we activate intelligence in all forms and become masterful (which is why children learn so much faster).

The great news: our natural inclination, or our default position, is inspiration. And we can return to that. With awareness and practice.

There’s infinite beauty in EVERY moment. In EVERY event. EVERYWHERE. Practice experiencing it more. Practice reprogramming yourself to see the world in all its splendor, as you did before you were taught otherwise. And activate your creative genius as a result.

More bliss, more mastery. Good deal.


  1. George Keves says:

    Have grandchildren, you’ll live each day in amazement and wonder…PS my golf game still STINKS( revised for a family audience)…

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