a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Why Even Pro Golfers Have Trouble Getting Their Last Agility Super-Q

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Why Even Pro Golfers Have Trouble Getting Their Last Agility Super-Q

SUMMARY: You got all the gambles you need for your agility championship except one, and now for reasons beyond sanity, demons prevent you from getting that last one!

Tika and one of her SuperQ ribbons. 
That 3rd one was our bugaboo.

I'm reading the book Why We Make Mistakes.

Gosh darned innate human response to stress when the outcome matters more than average, apparently. The book describes a study in which the PGA (Pro Golf Association) measured the success rates of only 6-foot putts in 15 pro golf tournaments one year without the golfers being aware of the study. 

One finding--and the most precious to our story, little darlings--was that golfers successfully made the putt if were only for a par score more often than if it were for making a birdie (one under par). Apparently because making par is just “average”, but making a birdie is a highly desirable outcome. And one stroke could make a huge difference in your final position among finishers and your take-home winnings. 

And yet--very shot you make is like that over the whole course, right? Where you might be earning a total score of 265-285 shots.  But somehow labeling the last shot on a hole as a “birdie” vs “par”decreased their ability to make the shot.

It’s like desperately trying to get hat last gamblers leg. That last super-Q in Snooker. That last anything to complete your agility championship. Or any other big title (more advanced championships, or lifetime achievement award, and so on), or cruising through the entire season being highly successful, cruising through the regionals and earning byes for the nationals, cruising through all the early rounds of the national or international championships and getting to the final round, And suddenly… 

BUT WAIT A MINUTE-- How many people get that last gamblers or that last superQ after struggling week after week or month after month (or year after year) and suddenly get the next four in a row?! What happened-- did the next ones just not matter any more?

Given my experience with four dogs, that doesn’t change even after getting those championships with multiple dogs. I’m sure that not everyone succumbs to this sort of self pressure. But it seems to be common, even among excellent teams. Ammiright?

The Jakemeister

So: Jake's ADCH, 2001

Super-Qs were no prob, but Gamblers?! I even started traveling up and down the state for hundreds of miles (which I didn't before and haven't since) trying to get that last confounded Gamblers Q. Then, one weekend in my own backyard (so to speak), my own club's USDAA event... Jake had been on enforced rest for a sore back for weeks and we had barely started trying to run full courses again. He was getting older. I really wanted that Q. I entered him in only that Gamblers class for the whole 4-day weekend... 

...and I was so busy in doing my jobs for the trial that I missed the obscene-colorful-adjective walkthrough and people were already running.  A friend told me from the sidelines what his plan was. The gamble looked nearly impossible to me. I was so sure, given those two handicaps, that I wouldn't get it that I didn't even ask anyone to videotape it. Annnnnnnnnd...

...of course we got the Q and the championship.  I had taken away my own stress level and relaxed because now it was clearly just going to have to be for fun, not for an actual Q.

Jake's ADCH gamblers course

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