How about we don’t rush, walk or even amble to judgment


After Dustin Johnson three-putted on the last hole of the U.S. Open to sickeningly lose his opportunity win his first major championship, there was a grand rush to judgment.

In the media, at golf clubs and around the proverbial water cooler, the general consensus was that Johnson tried to hole his slippery downhiller for eagle and the win, and that he should have just eased it down there to ensure a playoff. It was another choke among his four close calls in majors.

That’s the way of the world. Media outlets with 24-hour news cycles make judgments instantly, the twitterverse is full of kneejerk pronouncements, and in conversation, most of us provide our definitive two cents in a heart beat. There’s no time to confirm things, or wait to the dust to settle for facts to emerge.

I’m prone to it. Rather than appear wishy-washy, I’ll make a snap call on something to show how smart I am.

And, like most judgments, I’m usually wrong. Judgments can be close to the mark, but invariably, they prove to be partially or completely wrong.

In fact, it turns out Johnson was cautious. At least, that’s his side of it and I have no reason to doubt him when he said this week that he could not have hit his 14-footer softer at Chambers Bay. “I just barely touched it.”

Most of us also rush to judgment about ourselves, and create stories in the heat or gravity of the moment that define us as idiots, losers, jerks or whatever favourite put-down you use.

If that’s your opinion of yourself, you will unconsciously do everything in your power to prove yourself right. It’s self-perpetuating.

Like the judgments we make about other people, the stories we make up about ourselves are invariably wrong. Yes, from time to time, we’ll mess up, but our actions, thoughts and feelings do not define us. They are not who we are.

Judgments close down possibilities that we can do better, or at least differently. Once a judgment is rendered, that’s it—end of story. Why try to rally or refocus if you’ve already pronounced yourself a choker or loser?

Being open to possibility is just that—being open. It also means we can learn more about ourselves, make adjustments and draw on our innate talents and developed skills.

On the golf course, in conversation or on Twitter, I invite you to consider that rather than being an instant judge of everything, that you remain open to the possible ways the story may unfold when the evidence has been accumulated, you’ve got some perspective and your emotions have settled.

If you don’t play hanging judge, you’ll be less prone to cutting off everyone else’s head and your own.

Photo: TourProGolfClubs





About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!