Above: Not allowing a 72nd-hole gaffe to take full toll allowed OHern to regroup and win in extra holes.

One of the toughest parts about golf is accepting the result of a bad shot, because it’s easy to get into the ‘if only’ mind game. ‘If only’ I’d hit the right club, ‘if only’ I’d not three-putted, and so on.

Learning how to accept the result is a real asset to a golfer, but it’s easier said than done because we’re so concerned with where a little white ball goes and the number we write down on the scorecard.

Being able to accept the result is best achieved by committing to the process of hitting quality shots. When facing a golf shot, I always ask myself, “What do I have to do right now?” This question immediately directs my mind into the present moment so I’m not thinking about the result (the future). If I commit to following this process, I know I’m giving the shot my 100 percent attention and that’s all I can do. Therefore I’m able to accept whatever result occurs. If the ball goes where it’s supposed to then great! If not, well, I gave it everything I had, and I’m OK with that. If my mind wandered and I wasn’t in the present moment, that’s OK too because I’m only human. I can’t be perfect all the time, but I can strive to be.

This was the exact dilemma I faced after missing a three-foot putt to win the Australian PGA Championship in 2006. I’d played beautiful golf all week, going head-to-head with Peter Lonard in the final round. With a one-shot lead playing the 72nd hole, I had a three-footer for the title and that’s when I turned human. I began thinking about holding the trophy and my victory speech, rather than the process of hitting a three-foot putt. Not surprisingly I missed it. While sitting in the scorer’s hut afterwards, my caddy Wilbur reminded me to accept it and dig in for the playoff. I gave myself a good talking to on the ride back to the 18th tee for the first playoff hole, realising my mistake and committing to not doing that again by focusing on my process.

As luck would have it I had the exact same putt on the first playoff hole, only this time it was to extend the playoff. Calmly, I went through my routine and rolled it in to keep the tournament going. Finally, on the 4th extra hole, I played the bunker shot of my life to hole out from the back trap for the win. To say I felt relief was an understatement, but above all, I was so proud that I’d been able to ‘accept’ the 72nd-hole drama. Otherwise, I never would have hoisted the trophy later that day.

This example is to the extreme, but it gives an insight into how we’re all human and can’t hit great shots all the time. Sometimes it’s because of our swing, or we didn’t think properly, and other times the luck of the bounce takes over and it’s out of our hands. What we can control, however, is our commitment to each and every shot we attempt on the course. If we approach the ball with the right intentions to execute a quality golf shot, then the result will take care of itself … and I’m OK with whatever that may be.

– To get your copy of Nick O’Hern’s new book Tour Mentality: inside the mind of a tour pro order online at www.nickohern.com