Do Not Rationalize Failure
The 44th Secret
An ominous obstacle to improvement in golf is the habit of rationalizing. When a person rationalizes, it means,
to put it simply, that he places the blame for his defeats upon outside persons or circumstances. This protects his
ego by taking the sting out of failure. It turns painful depression into less painful anger. It tears others down
and, by this tearing down of others, seems to raise him in prominence, much like the last survivor of a battle
royal who looks like a giant in the ring if everyone else is on the floor. It is bad psychology to rationalize.
First, it is a most unpleasant personality trait. The least desirable companion on any golf course is the constant
griper. It is a mark of selfishness to impose on others the necessity for listening to this bilge.
Second, the tendency to excuse one's game hinders remedial learning. No improvement is possible unless the
individual takes full responsibility for all his golfing errors and proceeds to correct them.
Third, even if rationalization removes the sting from poor shots, it retards learning. Learning is faster if we
attach a painful reaction to a poor shot. When you rationalize, it makes failure more easy to take and thereby
makes it harder to learn. Rationalizing or the making of excuses does not inspire remedial practice. You do not
realize that remedial practice is necessary because you do not accept personal responsibility for the error.
Fourth, it is not wise to rationalize even when there is a good basis for it. If you do, it will intensify feelings
of hopelessness, and prevent you from attaining a satisfactory level of performance.
Even gross physical handicaps should not be used as excuses. Cruickshank, Armour, Nichols, Martucci, Furgol and
others have made names for themselves under the greatest of physical handicaps.