Golf tournaments show what kind of golfer your are and could be. The pressure of playing in a competition will accentuate our strengths and more importantly or weaknesses of our game. The area that I notice the most challenge for amateur golfers competing is on the mental side of the game. They are more concerned with what other players are doing, that they let it overshadow their game. For full disclosure, I have fell into this trap in my early years. As I mature as a player and developed my game, I found that what other players were doing was less a factor as what I am doing on the course. I am not sure there is a simple solution to the mental challenge of ignoring what other players are doing, but I seem to have know I turned the corner to success many years ago.
If you are wondering if what I am saying has any merit, I think the teach great Bob Rotella says it best:
What Rotella says hits home to the fundamentals of my game. I have spent years grooming my game and although I focused on my mechanics, I did realize that my mental strength needed improvement. Unfortunately, I did not know how to proceed except through experience. So, you can imagine my process was very slow. Then one day, I had an euphony that changed my approach to competitive and regular golf.
My dramatic change happened through frustration. I was so challenged with my play and I was focusing on what my opponent was doing that my game was near collapse. It was at that point I decided to stop focusing on what others was doing and focus my thoughts on what could do. Suddenly, my game changed around and I was able to gain some ground on the field. The change was enough that I felt I was onto something profound and actually discussed my approach with my local professional after the tournament. Gary was amazing as he outlined that golf is not a game of competition against others, but one of self competition. Playing golf and competing against myself. After about 30 minutes, I decided to change my approach to golf and 30 years later, I am still on this path.
Now, I am the anchor on all my teams. I feel confident I can make almost any shot within my bag when needed and I rarely think about what my opponent is doing. When playing stroke play, I do the best I can at the moment. This does not mean I always play well, but I focused on what I can do and not what my opponent is doing. This mental approach to my game makes me a tough competitor…..at least I think so. Regardless, mentally focusing on what I can do is one of my keys to success on the links. I will continue down that this path and continue to improve my mental approach to my game.
I am the grateful golfer. See you on the links!