Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Journey That Has No Destination

The game of golf provides you with a lifelong journey, but this journey has no destination.  There will never be a time when you arrive, because you can never completely capture this game.  As with any epic journey, you will have ups and downs.  You will experience joy and deal with problems.  At times you will feel on top of the world and at other times you will feel like the world is on top of you.

Lexi Thompson, her caddy and family all jump into Poppy's Pond after winning the 2014 ANA Dinah Shore.  Golf is a tough game and that makes the celebrations of great shots and great wins all the more special!

With that in mind, when I hear recruits tell me that they're "behind", I wonder how they can be behind in a journey that has no destination.  The only way they can judge that they are behind is if they compare themselves to others.  Your golf game is your journey and your's only.  For you to be behind, there would have to be a finish line.  Jack Nicklaus won the Masters at age 46 and there was a span of 23 years between his first and last Masters wins.  In 1998 he finished 6th at Augusta.  Do you think Jack ever placed a finish line in front of himself and declared that he had arrived as a golfer?  Probably not.  

There is no way to accelerate your journey, since there isn't a finish line, but some players seem to learn more quickly than others.  There are two prominent examples playing today; Jordan Spieth and Lydia Ko.  There are some similarities between the two players.  They both are confident in their abilities and play to win.  Neither compares him or herself to others.  They both have high golf IQs and rarely throw away shots. Neither's game is flashy, yet both are consistently at the top of the leader board.  How did these two players seem to skip developmental stages?  Probably because they never bought into the fact that there was a schedule for achievement or that they needed to wait their turn to win.  Instead, they focused only on their journey, their skills, their goals and their own learning processes.  

Lydia Ko was ranked no. 1 in February of this year at age 17 making her the youngest player to be no. 1 in history.

The key to improvement in golf is learning from mistakes instead of repeating them.  That means that mistakes are welcome indicators of where your game is, what you need and what has to be done.  If mistakes cause negative emotions, blame, excuses or justification, they will be repeated and nothing will be learned.  Spieth and Ko learned at an early age to separate their golf score from who they are as people.  They understand that golf is what they do, but not who they are.  This allows them to see their mistakes as opportunities to learn, not as indicators of weakness or fatal flaws.  

Jordan Spieth has won two majors at the age of 21.

Colin Montgomerie just won his first major at age 52 when he won the Senior PGA.  He said that he learned that he needed to focus on himself and not his fellow competitors and that was key.  He is still learning and growing as a player.  If you're 16 years old, that means you have 36 years or more of learning ahead of you.  If you learn to not compare yourself to others, not place a finish line in front of you and to see your weaknesses as new areas of learning, you might just enjoy this journey that is golf.  

Colin Montgomerie

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