With the start of my golf season yesterday, the lessons I learned from the 2021 Masters will easily be applied to my golf game. There was not magic shot that made me want to reevaluate my game, but more of lessons that will apply to every golfer regardless of skill. These lessons will not force you to change your swing mechanics, but more on how we approach our game for a mental stand point. I think the final round of the 2021 Masters demonstrated the many mental aspects of golf I espouse and will continue to discuss.
First, no matter how poor of an outcome from your shot, it could always be worse. I watched a multitude of players hit their ball into the most challenging of places and some got of lucky and others not so much. It seemed that the result of the wayward shots had no rhyme or reason for where the ball ended up. In some cases, the ball popped out to a playable position and others seemed to destine for disaster. In every case, it always seemed the result could have been worse. This leads to my second point.
Stop worrying about what could have been or should have been with we hit a wayward shot. I watch 98% of the players at this year’s Masters accept that poor shots happened. They then adopted a mental state of how do I make the best of this very poor situation. Xander Schauffele’s 16th hole was a perfect example of accepting (although I would suggest he was fuming inside) the situation and working to reduce the damage. This $600,000 disaster could have been much worse, but he recovered on the 17th hole to limit the damage. He focused on trying to rebound and this mental toughness is unfortunately developed through experiences of winning and losing.
Never stop grinding! Hideki Matsuyama, the Masters Champion, proved that no one should stop playing. His second shot on the 15th hole into the water had the potential to let Schauffele and Zalatoris back in the match. However, Matsuyama’s approach of not trying to regain all his strokes on his next shot was very key to winning. He accepted the results of the poor shot outcome and went to work. He did have a few strokes up on the field heading into the last three holes, but he stay focused and continued to work with every result (some not so stellar) to limit a disasters score. Those last three holes had to have tested his nerves and mentally he stay strong.
Finally, I think Tommy Fleetwood sums up how most of us feel about golf:
The 2021 Masters demonstrated that the mental aspect of playing golf is incredible important. Staying focused, in the moment, and emotionally controlled does result in lower golf scores. Everyone hits poor shots, even professionals, it is how we mentally approach the next shot that really separates the average player from good players, good players from great players, and great players from professionals.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!