Bad Timing for Praise


I played golf in my league yesterday morning with Judy, a very good golfer who has belonged to the league many years and Joan a golfer who had just joined and I had just met.

As we were waiting to tee off, being the “conversationalist” I am, i.e., someone who thinks that silent moments are to be avoided at all costs, I babbled on and on to Joan about Judy being such an excellent golfer.  I have only played with Judy a few times over the past two seasons that I have belonged to the league, but I have been impressed with her as just a quiet, very pleasant, quality golfer.  It never occurred to me that there might be a downside to sharing that with Joan in front of the quiet, not-in-any-way-boastful Judy.

And then we teed off.  I won’t go into the stroke-by-stroke details of the first two holes, but I will say that I would guess Judy played probably the worst two holes she has ever played in many, many years, or maybe ever!

Now, because Judy is a quiet, dignified lady, she just kept hitting the ball and never swore or even looked flustered, and by the third hole she was back on her game.  But, for those first two holes I could not have felt worse, because I’m pretty sure my glowing praise to a new player in front of Judy had played with her mind a little bit (believe me non-golfers, golf IS a game of the mind, as much as physical) and caused her two-hole slump.

So, I tell you this for two reasons.  1.  I need to remind myself that sometimes even good things can be said at inappropriate times and cause bad results.  and 2.  Maybe my embarrassing experience will save you from a similar fate sometime.

I guess what impressed me the most is that Judy never in any way acted like she blamed me for those two holes, so either she is a wonderful actress or a saint!  Whichever she is, because she was so kind in the face of my gaff, she will always be a favorite of mine, and, just because of how nice she is, I would guess she would even team up with me again!

6 Responses to Bad Timing for Praise

  1. C. Beth says:

    It sounds like Judy is very gracious! And even if your praise did have a negative psychological effect on her, I bet she still appreciated your encouraging words.

  2. Sandra says:

    Beth — Well, she may appreciate my words in retrospect, but I’m pretty sure she was wishing I hadn’t said them during that first two holes! This is a lesson I wish I could learn once and for all. But, thank you, as always, for putting a positive spin on my actions. 🙂

  3. Hilary says:

    You may have cost Judy two holes (and as a non-golfer, I might be underestimating its importance), but Judy has still walked away from that game knowing that her friend feels great pride and admiration for her ability. I think she came out on the winning end of this one.

  4. Sandra says:

    You know, Hilary, that thought did cross my mind, and I’ve made a copy of this post and put it in my golf bag, because I’m thinking that she might get even more satisfaction from seeing a written account of the event, but I’m not sure. Do you think that might be overkill?

  5. Hilary says:

    Actually, Sandra, I think that would be a great idea. She’ll know that you did care about what you’ve perceived as causing her difficulty early on. And who wouldn’t appreciate knowing that someone wrote something positive about them? Especially when the writer is a sweetie like you. 🙂

  6. Sandra says:

    Thank you, Hilary, for your eternally optimistic take on me. You definitely make we want to live up to your perception of me! 🙂

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