Winning the Battle for Your Mind!
Dr. Bob Winters
Hurricane Golf Tour 2012
Article # 1
Golf’s Key Ingredient: Believing in Your Talent
Hello, my name is Dr. Bob Winters and I am excited to be the official mental coach of the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour! My task is to help you understand how your mind, thoughts, and emotions can provide you with an unbelievable edge in golfing performance! This is the first of a series of articles and videos that I will present to you as a member of the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour to help you play the best golf of your young career. This first piece deals with the most basic ingredient of any great golfing performance. It is about your ability to use your mind to help you when you play rather than work against you and create doubt and worry.
As many of you already know through your playing experience, it is quite easy to be cool, calm and collected when your shots are going straight down the fairway and you are sinking all of those pesky three-footers. Confidence and success are two ingredients that seem plentiful when good things are happening. It seems that no matter what happens on the golf course, the bounces and breaks tend to go your way.
However, what happens when you hit a few “foul balls” and your putts start to rim out of the hole? Do you start to wonder if your swing is going to hold up or ever worry that you will be able to hold on to your momentum or lead? Where is your confidence then? And if confidence is so fragile sometimes, how do we get it back and create that feeling of positive momentum or get ourselves headed in the right direction? The following section may provide you with a vivid example of how one player turned it around and went on to create one of the best starts of his pro career. By examining what he did and learning from his mental approach, it can provide you with a mental blueprint for success when you go play in your next tournament!
Phil Mickelson: Turning it around!
For so many junior golfers, it seems that they can only be confident when everything is going their way and that they feel they are hitting their shots “perfectly”. But the truth of the matter is, for every PGA and LPGA tour player who wins a tournament, they had to endure many low moments and stay patient when they could have easily jumped out the window and told themselves: “today just isn’t my day!” What you will find is that for every tournament winner on any level, they always get back to the basic premise of: (1) believing in their ability and (2) staying true to their belief system that good things will come their way if they can be upbeat, optimistic and patient. If you don’t believe me, then let’s examine what Phil Mickelson did in his tournament win at Pebble Beach earlier this season. His story is a great lesson point for believing in your ability and staying true to your commitment!
As he was playing his second round of the AT &T Pebble Beach Classic on Friday, Phil had doubts of whether everything was going to come together for him. Weeks earlier, he knew that he was playing okay, but he felt that he just wasn’t scoring as well as what he wanted or what he expected of himself. The putts weren’t dropping and it seemed that once again he just wasn’t playing to his potential. It seemed that this was going to be another one of “those disappointing weeks”. Even one week leading up to the Pebble Beach golf tournament, one of the major golf magazines had a picture of him on the cover saying that he wasn’t living up to his potential and that he was “out of focus”. Talk about providing a bit of incentive to turn it around! Phil was in a downward spiral of frustration and disappointment.
Upon reaching the 18th hole (his 9th of the day in the second round at Monterey Peninsula…he teed off on # 10) he was moping around and feeling a bit sorry for himself. He had a few missed birdie opportunities earlier and as he was walking to the first tee to play his 10th hole of the day, his wife Amy stopped him. She saw what was happening and as he was walking by her, she gave him a little talk. She told him to get his head up and become more positive, that there were a lot more holes to play and that he could turn his day around!
After hearing that pep talk from his wife and relying on his caddie, Bones McKay, to help him stay in the moment on the back side, he turned his day and week around. By staying true to his new-found conviction, he dropped a couple of putts in his second round on the back nine and used that momentum to surge into the weekend. What was important about his victory is that when he was doing his winning interview, he told the reporters that he really had to overcome the mental hurdles that had been holding him back earlier in the year.
Phil kept telling himself that he had to stay in the moment and not get discouraged. He told himself to simply do what he does and that was to play Phil Mickelson golf. This meant playing one shot at a time and staying true to his commitment all day long. At the end of the day, Phil was in the winner’s circle and he rode that momentum into the next week securing a place in the Northern Trust Open playoff with Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas, which was ultimately won by Bill Haas, (who also stayed true to his talent and sank a 40 foot putt on the 10th hole to secure a win when he looked like he was out of it entirely!)
Putting the Pieces Together: The Lesson Point
So what does all of this mean? The lesson point that you can take from Phil’s story is this: the moment that you change your mind about the things and events you are thinking about……the things and events you are thinking about….change as well! Simply, when you are aware that you are not playing as well as you want and you start to feel down and discouraged……..STOP! STOP yourself from going into the negative spiral and get a grip! Get a hold of yourself and remind yourself that this is golf….this is what tournament golf is all about. It is about dealing with the bad thoughts as well as the good ones. It is about dealing with the difficult lies and the tough situations as well as the cream puff shots!
Golf is not easy nor was it ever intended to be! If it was, everyone would be holding the winner’s trophy and the victory and overcoming the challenges of the day wouldn’t be as meaningful. Think about it…..true confidence is not just created from hitting a series of successful shots and putts or from winning tournaments, but from salvaging and saving strokes when others are wasting them. True confidence is facing difficult situations and doing the best you can in those tough moments and turning momentum around into a force of positive belief and conviction. It’s funny, but the old adage’ of “when the going gets tough…the tough get going” always holds true when you are talking about mental toughness coming down the stretch of a golf tournament!
I think it is vital to remember that the junior golfers who are in the winner’s circle realize this fact and deal with the heartaches, the bad shots and bad breaks and accept the poor results and move on to hit the next shot as well as they can. They continue to believe in their ability that the present moment and future can and will get better! In short, they stop thinking about how bad things are and become very proactive in creating new thoughts and opportunities for the upcoming shot at hand.
A Final Word from the Doctor
So, if you are down and discouraged…what do you need to do? Simply take a lesson point from Phil, Amy and Bones……….STOP the pity party and get your head up and get back into playing the game….YOUR GAME…..ONE shot at a time! Patience and sticking to the simple basics of doing what you do well is always a great cure for poor performance. Remember, it is never too late to build momentum and confidence. Phil did it and so should you! I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully you will contact me and allow me to help you into the winner’s circle as well!
May you always play with confidence!
Dr. Bob Winters
Mental Game Advisor
Hurricane Junior Golf Tour
• If you would like to contact me or discuss how I can provide you with my services, please contact me at my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website: www.drbobwinters.com or call me at my Orlando, Florida office at 407-340-7785. I look forward to hearing from you!