By Janie C. Farina

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery”

~ James Joyce

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If “Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” then why do our golf mistakes often lead to excuses as an excuse for the mistakes we make?

Here’s what I hear:

  • The greens were too fast
  • The greens were too slow
  • The wind was wicked
  • I never felt comfortable over the ball all day.
  • My putts kept lipping out of the cup.
  • If there was trouble, my golf ball found it.
  • I couldn’t get my tempo because of the slow group in front of us
  • I couldn’t get my tempo because the group behind us kept hitting into us
  • The sand in the bunker was too wet, too fluffy, too thin, etc.
  • I didn’t have a decent lie all day.

So why do we think we should be playing better golf than we actually played?

The portals to better golf lie in facing the excuse, not making the excuse. Consider this: Excuses redirected and addressed as mistakes and can be corrected with a good instructor and proper practice plan. Practice uncomfortable circumstances by replicating undesirable conditions that arise while playing golf.

For example, make it a practice to play different courses with different greens and learn how to adjust more quickly to these variations in speed. The same goes for bunker sand and consistency.

Instead of dodging windy conditions, get out there and make it common practice to experiment with crosswinds, down winds, and into your face winds. Tossing grass into the air before each shot on these days should be a given, as well as watching the trees behind the green or the flags and their direction. For each knot of wind, a club adjustment should occur.

Finding your tempo and keeping it during rounds of intermittent stops and gos is a developed skill. Make it a mission to alternate play with “Speedy Gonzales” and “Mo Molasses” and focus on keeping a seamless flow to your round with your thought, your walk and your talk.

Lipping out putts, feeling uncomfortable over the ball and your ball continually finding trouble may likely be a simple alignment issue. Get a partner/teacher to video you behind the target and review your aim.

Eye dominance plays a key role in direction and how we set up to the target.

Have your equipment checked. Improper lie angle of clubs affect direction as much as 200 yards.

Review your course management decisions: On the tee box, set up on the same side as the trouble and allow your shot some breathing room for a mistake so the trouble isn’t staring you in the face.

So in your quest to play the golf you “think you should be playing,” ditch the excuses and get busy using those mistakes to become the portals to good golfing discovery.

Keep the flow and let it go!


Janie C. Farina is a 26-year LPGA teaching and coaching professional who has recently relocated to St. Johns. Her teaching specialty is working with the disabled or students recovering from disabilities who want to use golf as therapy, as well as seniors, women, and juniors. Email her at

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