We all face the struggles of golf — golf is hard — and most often place the blame cruelly square on ourselves.
“Man, I stink!”
“You stupid idiot!”
“God, I’m so bad!”
I hear folks inflicting this incredibly damaging self-talk upon themselves every day I go to my teaching tee. The noted sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella once shared with me that the most damaging thing an athlete could do was, voice a negative expletive about themselves out loud, for their own ears to hear. His opinion was that this was far more damaging then another person criticizing you.
Bob went on to advise to never ever openly criticize oneself — that the damage to your confidence would be long-lasting and far-reaching.
I remember a wonderful example of a player with golf firmly in perspective. It was the mid to late ’90s and I was on the practice tee at Westchester Country Club with the great Tom Kite. Now keep in mind Tom had an incredibly consistent PGA Tour career. He was nothing short of a living, breathing, ATM, making regular five- and six- figure withdrawals from PGA Tour purses.
During this particular time frame Tom had run into a very unusual stretch for him. He had missed several cuts and, when he had made it to the weekend, he had struggled. The press was writing that Kite was fading and his time was past.
We chatted that day and I asked him how he was holding up. Without hesitation he looked me square in the eye and said, “TP, it’s nothing but a speed bump!”
I asked for an explanation and he simply said, “when you have been at this game as long as I have, there are going to be peaks and valleys.”
He went on to explain he was going to go to work each day and simply figure it out.
A week or two later he finished second in a tour event and went on a four- or five-week run of high finishes.
I personally wouldn’t rank Tom Kite’s swing in the Top 25 of his era. That said, he won 37 times worldwide, 19 times on the PGA Tour. He won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He was the first in his era to reach $6 million, $7 million, $8 million and $9 million in annual earnings. Keep in mind some of the players in his era were Nicklaus, Watson, Norman, Couples … I could go on and on.
My point is, attitude is everything in sport. You can be blessed with wonderful athlete talent. World-class hand-eye coordination. A tremendous work ethic. Couple any and all of those things with a bad attitude, and it’s all for nothing.
We all get up daily and have a choice. Ask yourself, is your glass half-empty or half-full? Make the right choice.
Tom Patri is the President and Founder of TPGOLF. He is a former Met PGA Teacher of the Year as well as a former South Florida PGA Teacher of the Year. Tom is a Golf Tips Magazine Top 25 Instructor in America. He teaches at Esplanade in Naples, Florida November-April and is The Director of Instruction at The Hawthorns Golf and Country Club in Fishers, Indian, May-October. Reach him at [email protected] or (239) 404-7790.