By Janie C. Farina

How often do our jobs, our loves, our friends and family, and our golf disappoint us in our lives? In my career as a player, instructor, and coach, I have run the gamut of grimness in my game as well as in my own life.

Some people run and hide from disappointment. Some take charge and get a grip. Some get mad and some let the sadness ruin their lives.

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Golf can cause what the Buddhists call “dunka” — pain, suffering and dismay. Whatever the source of your own personal “dunka” — love, family, or job — golf can certainly rank right up there.

Golf can bring out the “best” and the “beast” in people. I have witnessed this sport drive a player to throw clubs, fudge a handicap, cheat on the scorecard, throw tantrums and gyrate as though in a prize fight. How can a sport that is supposed to be relaxing and fun cause such anguish?

The secret to bringing out the “best” and not the “beast” in our lives and in our golf lies with one thing: Truth. How often are we really honest with ourselves?

When we expect more, and don’t have the ability or the determination to take the time and learn shots, then it’s Dunka, Dunka, Dunka.

Consider these “bests” and “beasts.” Are they part of your game?

Expectation vs reality: The beast in us would take a lob wedge from 30 feet behind the tallest tree on the course and attempt to hit 100 yards over the tree. Is this a realistic solution?

The best course of action would be the shot you know would work: hit a less lofted shot with a less lofted club and roll it back onto the fairway. But that’s no fun, right? The beast would rather take a 12 on the hole just to prove it can work, rather than make a bogey and move on.

Imagination vs knowledge: The beast in us sees a dogleg left from the tee box and tries to hook the ball. He knows he slices the ball 99.9 percent of the time under pressure, but tries to hook anyway. He wants that .01 percent to work because he imagines it so, and blocks the shot right sending it into the next fairway over.

The best choice would be to take an iron and lay-up at the corner of the dogleg for an easy approach to the green. Another bogey, but not an out of bounds for a penalty, or the embarrassment of hitting from the wrong fairway. Taking a penalty shot or two is the alternative.

Skill vs experimentation: The ball lands in one inch of water in the hazard. Rather than dropping the ball in relief and taking the penalty, the beast decides to play the ball as it lies. Frantically he tries to plow through the water at the ball, not realizing that water requires three times the force and has three times the resistance and deceleration of a normal shot from land. Tack on a few extra strokes there, too. Not to mention ruining the shoes, slacks, and ego.

Accountability vs placing blame: So, we add up our round. The beast finds an excuse for shooting high numbers. Instead of evaluating how many three putts, penalties, and suicidal shots that turned disastrous, the beast finds with the course conditions, the person he was paired with, or the pace of play.

So how do we find golf-hope that floats? Ditch the beast and be the best. As Buddha put it: “The greatest gift of truth exceeds all others.” Be true to yourself and you will play your golfing best.

Remember to keep the flow and let it go!

Janie C. Farina is a 26-year teaching professional recently who relocated to the St. Johns area. She is now available for golf instruction at two local golf courses. Email her at with comments or questions.

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