The next time you watch a golf tournament, particularly a major championship, view it with a little bit of a different perspective. Of course you're watching the best players in the world, but pay attention to the mistakes that they make - and they will make them. You'll see poor tee shots that find thick rough, missed short putts, chips that are flubbed and decisions that leave the fans and announcers scratching their heads. In other words, you'll see players doing things that you and I do every time we tee it up.
But also notice this: these players rarely end up with really high scores. Even the players who are at the top of the leaderboard usually have some adversity during their round - but they battle back to get into contention.
David Duval's positive outlook played a big part in his comeback at the 2009 U.S. Open and in reviving his career. Dr. Bob Rotella got it right with the name of his first best-selling book, "Golf is not a game of perfect." The best players in the world get that, most amateurs don't. I can't even tell you how many times I've seen amateurs hit a bad shot or get a bad break or have a bad hole and that's it for them. The round is over! They either get so mad they can't get refocused or they abandon their swing and start trying to fix it. Not the pros, at least not most of the time. At the 2009 U.S. Open, one of my endurig memories will be how David Duval began his Monday round with a tough-break triple bogey (his 4th hole of the round) and rebounded to get back into contention and finished tied for second. No whining, no fits, no panic. Back to his fundamentals and to the good golf he knew he could play.
One bad hole does not have to wreck a round. You can have a three-putt, a ball hit out of bounds or take an unplayable lie, and still save a score overall. That's why golf is 18 holes.
Tiger Woods' enthusiastic celebrations can lead to more strong results in the future. One thing we have learned from the "mental coaches" like Rotella is that how or what we remember and then recall later from experiences is based on our emotional response to a particular experience. A strong emotional response to a particular shot will cause us to remember and therefore recall that shot. So if you always get mad or depressed over bad shots or poor breaks then that is what you will remember and recall under pressure. What we should do is have a cool and some what dismissive response to a negative shot or result, almost like we did not care. And when we have a positive shot or result we should take a moment to enjoy it, maybe even a small celebration. Tiger Woods' after shot celebrations are well recorded and noticed but I believe they help him remember and recall his positive results when it counts.
One thing I do when a round is not going my way is to keep setting new scoring goals for the rest of the round or the next few holes. Like after a bad stretch of holes I might say to my self, "let's play the next 3 holes one under", or "I going to make three birdies coming in". It is a way of staying positive and focusing on the future. Like they say, "there is no future in the past".
A great attitude does not take any talent. We can all achieve it. But it does take practice. Attitude is a choice, you are not stuck with a poor attitude. Try reading some of Rotella's books or one of my other favorites, Fred Shoemaker's Extraordinary Golf, and apply some of their principles and I bet you will lower your scores and have a lot more fun on the course.
Hit them straight...