The Power of one in sports

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The human race seems to be fixated on numbers.

We are consumed with our age, our weight and countless other things. Forty-nine years old seems so much younger than 50. That one number also makes a significant difference when considering our weight.

You all know it’s true, and this idea carries over to our golf games, as well.

Golf is a game driven by numbers.

Whether we are referring to the score on your scorecard, your handicap that is posted on the board in the golf shop or even the distance you can hit the golf ball — we are always looking for that number to be one higher or lower.

That one number messes with our confidence as golfers. For scratch golfers, the difference between shooting 69 or 70 is incredible. That lower number just looks better, even though the difference is only one.

For those of you with higher handicaps, the difference between shooting 99 versus 100 seems monumental.  If you shoot a 99, you are thought of as a reasonable golfer who can hit the occasional good shot.

By contrast, if you shoot 100, you might be thought of as a novice who desperately needs to take some lessons to improve. It sounds funny, but I’ve seen it too many times to argue otherwise.

These thoughts certainly don’t stop at the scorecard.

Just think of that handicap chart you see hanging in golf shops. You can scroll down that chart checking out everybody’s handicap index. As soon as you come across a player with an index of a single digit, you now view that player as a different caliber from all others.

Often, those indexes are listed with decimals. For example, someone may have an index of 9.9, while the player listed below them may have an index of 10.0. The difference is miniscule, yet it often places these players in completely different categories from the perspective of many.

It’s funny, yet so true.

The power of one works throughout other sports, as well. Think of a pitcher in baseball. A guy throwing the ball 99 MPH isn’t nearly the same pitcher as a guy throwing the ball 100 MPH.

A basketball player averaging 19.9 points per game isn’t seen as the same player as a guy averaging 20 points per game.  These are just a few examples, but they ring true in nearly every sport imaginable.

We are often judged by numbers. Whether this is right or wrong, it is a matter of fact. The power of one makes a significant difference in how we are perceived by others.

Sometimes it’s better to be one higher, while other times we’d like to be one lower. Whichever is the case, try to keep an honest perspective of the situation and realize that the power of one does not make that big of a difference.

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