Last week I was at a championship golf tournament with one of my students. It was an environment just ripe for nerves and expectations. The kind of situation that makes your perceptions negative and unreliable. My student had progressed all season long, slowly improving both his physical and his mental game. He had matured into a very solid player and seemed ready to break through with a strong showing in a very high level competition.
The course was in immaculate condition with tight fairways, large undulating greens, and the presence of a great deal of water and out of bounds. In other words, the course was filled with a mental nightmare if you allowed it to effect you that way. My player was loose and calm during his practice round making seven birdies in a very smooth afternoon. This created a very confident feeling and a great attitude to start the tournament.
To hold onto this attitude during the start of the tournament was going to be his challenge. As the next morning dawned, he finished his preparation and walked to the first tee. He was moving a little fast and walking back and forth. I could see that the moment was upon him – the nerve activating moment of the first tee shot in a major tournament. Where would his focus be? Was he focusing on the out of bounds, the importance of the event, the trees on both sides of the fairway, or just holding on for dear life as he tried to hit that first shot???
Here’s what happened. He came over to me on the side of the tee and this is what we talked about. I asked him, “What time is it?” He looked at me and smiled and said, “NOW”. Then I asked him, “Who are you?” Again, he smiled and said, “THIS MOMENT”. He turned and walked to the tee box, went through his routine, and ripped a two iron two hundred and fifty yards right down the middle of the fairway. He picked his tee up and with a smile he walked down the fairway after his destiny. He maintained this attitude of playing in the moment – or as the announcers say, playing one shot at a time for the entire round. At the end of the 18 holes, he led the tournament at two under par.
Touch base with me to find out how my student worked on this and achieved this improvement in his mental game.