By Kevin Hutto

We are all programmed to win. Even when we were younger, we were always told that winning is everything, that it was the only thing that mattered. This has become our psyche in dealing with almost everything that we do. In golf, as in any game, we always want to outdo our opponents and try to emerge the best at the end of every game. But is winning really everything? Is there any thing else more important in golf than the scent of victory?

The game of golf is supposed to be enjoyed. From the time we enter the golf course to tee-off to the walk we do from hole-to-hole in the lush greens to the time we sink the putt, the whole game is a unique experience that is worthy of appreciation. Each of the tiny fragments of the game– whether it be a birdie or a bogey or being lucky enough to get a hole-in-one– have their unique little pleasures that are worth cherishing.

Winning is not everything. Far more important than getting that championship trophy is learning how to understand and appreciate every single bit of the game. This allows us to experience the true pleasures of golf. When we are too engrossed with only one thing–winning–we tend to overlook the other more important aspects of the game. The camaraderie between golf mates, the lovely scent that emanates from the newly-mowed green or the vigorous beating of your heart as you wait for your plummeting ball to make it to the fairway– all these make golf the relaxing and enjoyable game that it is.

Think about it: You are going to be spending an average of 5 hours in the golf course with your fellow golfers in an 18-hole game. Can you imagine what would happen to you if you can only concentrate on winning the whole time? You’d get so wound up that your nerves wouldn’t be loose enough to drive the ball as far or as accurate as you normally would if you were less edgy.

Then something wonderful happens when you actually allow yourself to relax and enjoy the game: Your swings get better and stronger as your mental focus improves. It might seem counter-intuitive but enjoyment actually paves the way for that sought-after victory.

Play golf to enjoy…. and win!