Sometimes the greatest change we can make, is a change of viewpoint.
There was an interesting discussion held on the teebox of a par 3 on the weekend, between myself and 2 other golfers, both much better than me. 1 was off 2, and the other was off 7. They were talking about an interaction during a pennant match, where the 2 was playing against an opponent, removed the flagstick and put it down on the green behind play to make sure it was no chance of being hit during putts. The opponent then claimed that the flag was being used as an aiming aid, and the hole was lost. He said this incident (which i have no idea if it was recent or a while ago) basically turned him off bothering with pennant golf ever again.
I believe this kind of thing can happen regularly during matchplay type scenarios, where people are constantly looking for a way to get the competitive edge so they look for obtaining it any which way possible, even if that means ruining their opponents day for their own benefit. I would suspect pennant golf would likely be more common to see this kind of thing, which is probably the highest level competition that the local golfer will ever play.
Isn't it interesting though, that these kinds of things which are more focused on hurting your opponent, rather than improving yourself could be one of the main reasons some people don't play to their full potential?
The best athletes in the world have a burning passion to beat the best at their best. They want to feel that pressure, and want to be able to rise to the situation through focus and determination. Tennis players have often overridden incorrect calls from umpires to the favor of their opponents. Professional golfers will call penalties on themselves that others may not have seen. I even remember watching an interview with an AFL coach who was disappointed that the opponents star player was injured the week they were due to play against each other.
I was given this advice from someone who mentored me when I was involved with Tenpin Bowling at an international level. She had won 100's of tournaments in her career, and was regarded as one of the greatest female tenpin bowlers ever worldwise.
With shifting a simple fundamental change in the way I approached head to head matches, all of a sudden I started winning alot more regularly. Not only that, I was also enjoying the competition more, because alot of the competitive stress was eliminated from my tournaments.
She taught me the art of barracking for your opponent. The change, is as simple as genuinely having the desire to see your opponent play well at all given times. This isn't something that can be implemented on the occasion. It needs to be adapted into our mindset and never strayed from.
By celebrating our opponents success, we feed off the positive energy, which improves not only our focus, but also the enjoyment we can draw from the experience we are having. Even if the results don't go our way on the day, if we approach it positively we can learn much more than wasting our time looking for excuses about our opponent. I feel overall it is better to have a bad result and learn from it than to have a good result at the detriment to our opponent.
Often, this kind of change in mentality can drag us out of a slump, and get us back to our peak and beyond. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we can stay objective more often, and look at the whole picture instead. All of a sudden we can become a better person overall, and if you're really good at it, you can sometimes even change the mindset of people around you which is one of the greatest feelings of all.
So the question is:
Could a change of your viewpoint on how you see your opponent potentially serve you and your results?