Mental focus is different than mental toughness. On the surface, they might seem the same, however, to me they are two completely different states of mind. Although golfers require both, they are not applied equally during any round. And yesterday during my early bird round, it became very clear that my lack of mental focus cost me my first sub-par round of the year! Continue reading
Congratulations to Brooks Keopka for winning the 117th US Open. The final round was very exciting with many charges up the leaderboard. None more exciting than
Hideki Matsuyama. Early in the club house at minus 12 added a pinch of excitement for the viewers. The final round was by far the most exciting of the four rounds. Continue reading
The US Open is just one day away. The field is set, except that Phil Mickelson still is hoping for a 4 hour rain delay, and the course is being prepared. It was all over the news yesterday that the USGA trimmed the fescue. We are not sure if this was their original plan or they were forced to because of all the whining by some of the pros. Regardless, Erin Hills is going to play tough, especially around the greens.
Mental toughness is the cornerstone of golf. Arnold Palmer thinks so and I am sure if you ask any golfer they would agree! The picture above reminds me of Tiger Woods in his prime! In his early years, Tiger was almost unstoppable. Yes he had a great swing, soft touch and a deadly putting stroke, but mostly he was mentally superior to all players.
Every time he hit the links, the knew he was going to win. Obviously Tiger did not win every tournament he entered, but his record speaks for itself:
- Woods has won 79 official PGA Tour events, second only to Sam Snead, and six ahead of Jack Nicklaus with 73 wins.
- Woods has won 14 majors, second all time, behind Jack Nicklaus.
- Woods is 14–1 when going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead.
- Woods scoring average in 2000 is the lowest in PGA Tour history, both adjusted, 67.79, and unadjusted, 68.17.
- Woods has the lowest career scoring average in PGA Tour history.
- Woods has amassed the most career earnings of any player in PGA Tour history (even after inflation is considered).
- Woods is one of five players (along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player) to have won all four professional major championships in his career, known as the Career Grand Slam, and was the youngest to do so.
- Woods is the only player to have won all four professional major championships in a row, accomplishing the feat in the 2000–2001 seasons. This feat became known as the “Tiger Slam”.
- Woods set the all-time record for most consecutive cuts made, with 142. The streak started in 1998, he set the record at the 2003 Tour Championship with 114 (passing Byron Nelson’s previous record of 113 and Jack Nicklaus at 105) and extended this mark to 142 before it ended on May 13, 2005 at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. Many consider this to be one of the most remarkable golf accomplishments of all time, given the margin by which he broke the old record and given that during the streak, the next longest streak by any other player was usually only in the 10s or 20s. It should be noted that when Byron Nelson played far fewer players made the cut in a given event.
- Woods has won a record 26.2% (79 out of 301) of his professional starts on the PGA Tour.
- Woods is the only golfer to have won the U.S. Amateur three consecutive times (1994–96). (Source Wikipedia)
In my opinion, Tiger Woods current woes are mental. I am confident that if he was a mentally strong as he was in 2000, he would continue with his winning ways. Mentally, he is one of the strongest players to ever play professional golf. I am not sure how he regains his mental toughness, but if he does, he will be a force to contend with!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
The mental challenges in golf are vast and numerous! What distinguishes an average player from a great player is usually their mental toughness. The ability to have laser like focus when required is something that is honed over time. There are a few who have the innate ability to be mentally strong, but for the most of us, mental toughness must be nurtured and developed.
Through my many years of playing sports, I have developed a keen competitive edge that has served me extremely well. Like other athletes, I have played at the élite level in several sports with much success. However, the great times have also been marred with periods of self-doubt and lack of confidence. These dark times always started with one small insignificant word that has the ability to wreak devastation in its path. That word is “Can’t”!
I must have heard this word 10,000 times in my 50+ years of life! But, the greatest negative effect this word has is when I use it against myself.
Years back, a volleyball coach that I knew, always told his players “you are right, you Can’t” if they used that negative word. He told the young athletes that as soon as they say they can’t do something, their mind and body will immediately agree. He further explained that the biggest effect of that word lies in the six inches of real estate between their ears!
This coach’s teachings have stuck with me through the years. He taught me that being mentally strong is extremely important to any athlete. Last year was a great year for me on the links. There are some things I still have challenges accomplishing, but last year’s successes, as I worked towards being a scratch golfer, helped remove the word “Can’t” from my vocabulary.
This does not mean that I am successful all the time, but ‘by removing that word that shall not be spoken’ the doors of possibility stay open. Last year, I tried learning to shape the ball last year with mixed success; I tried chipping the ball with a new stance with greater success; and I stayed focused on the positive aspects of my game with the best results of all. Through this entire journey, I slowly reduced my self-doubt and increased my confidence on the links.
The greatest success story of last year was the improvement in my mental toughness.
I am no longer afraid of tough lies, hitting into the green from 200 yards, or playing over water into the wind. I found that using the word “CAN” helped improve my game significantly. Now, I did have some challenging times and that bad word did try to creep back into my mind, but I quickly vanquished it with a positive attitude and positive self-talk.
Golf offers many challenges when a player has any self-doubt. As I told my friend Brian from All About Golf, I am going improve my game by focusing 70% of my efforts on the mental side of golf. I believe that removing “that negative word” is the first place to start. I am mentally preparing to be a scratch golfer and it all starts here and now!
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!