Monday, January 11, 2016

"I've Got It!"

Are you a golfer who occasionally says to yourself or to others, "I've got it!"?  Then, the next thing you know, you lose the "it" you had.  Proclamations such as this are generally based on a feeling or a window of time when things are going well.  These type of proclamations aren't, however, healthy for a player working toward long-term success.  Golf is not a sport that you "get".  It requires a lifetime of learning and complete focus within the moments of performance.  It involves more skills than any other sport and each must be mastered to avoid falling prey to a weakness.  The longer you play golf, the more you realize your limitations.

Players who employ the "I've got it!" approach to the game are usually self-described as streaky.  Their ball striking or putting is either off or on.  Players who want to become consistent and taken one step further, consistently great, understand that occasions of success or good feelings are a good sign, but amount to little else.  The goal is to figure out how to be at your best every day.  Golf is a tough sport and even the best don't win all the time, but there are a few special players who've learned to access their best often and when it mattered most.

Let's make an analogy to eating a delicious meal.  Have you ever gone to a fine dining restaurant?  If so, you've experienced wonderful service, peaceful ambience, a table set with fine china, an array of food that both looks and tastes fabulous and perhaps some nice wine to enhance the meal.  With your first bite of a steak, you might smile and say, ah hah, that is the best steak I've ever had.  It is an ah hah moment.  The moment itself is represented in the taste and tenderness of the bite, but imagine what went into producing that bite. You can go as far back as you like with the work that went into your ah hah moment.  The farmer who raised a tasty steer, the expertise of the meat cutter, the seasoning and grilling, the presentation, etc. The chef who cooked it probably attended a culinary institute and has years of experience producing delicious food.  The restaurant itself left nothing to chance with the environment when you took that bite and their attention to your comfort helped lead to the ah hah.  That bite is a lot like hitting a perfect 5 iron.  The golf shot is produced by someone who has educated herself to hit those shots.  She has practiced and prepared.  She works to form an environment that leaves nothing to chance.  Her goal is to have an ah hah moment each and every time she hits her 5 iron.  As with the steak, the process is years long, but shows itself in a moment's time.

If, as a player, you decide to experience the ah hah moment as does a diner in a restaurant, you will be captivated by the outcome and not the process.  Instead of becoming enamored with the result of the 5 iron shot, you must become enamored with the total process.  Leave nothing to chance and understand that the process stands on the legs of years of effort and learning.  Allow others to think along the lines of "She's got it!" when you play, but understand that your efforts are only as good as your last 5 iron and that unless you put the time into preparation and focus on the details that lead to your success, it can be gone as quickly as a moment.
Lorena Ochoa was a player who rose to her best golf more often than most of her competitors and won often over many years.

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