To have the ability to intently focus on the task at hand, stay in the present moment and produce the right shots and at the right time. To be comfortable in your own skin, create clear objectives, so you can play your game with confidence. Realize that comparing your game to others doesn’t produce better results. Playing your game means learning to shut out all other distractions while you commit to your personal game plan.
Some of us have the gift of hitting it long. (I have tried to purchase yardage all over the world ... to no avail). Some of us have a great short game. Others putt well. We all get to be good at something. The trouble is, it is not always what we choose. Remember, “Every shot makes somebody happy. Why not let it be you?”
Those of us who watched the final round of the U.S. Open this year witnessed the best example of playing your game I have ever seen. How Dustin Johnson was able to stay in the present moment and stay focused on the task at hand with all the outside distractions, I will never know. I believe he was able to do so only because he had experienced “blowing it” previously. The game of golf teaches us so many lessons. Fortunately, if you do not give up, you can eventually crack through your personal barriers.
Find a Favorite
As I write this article, I am watching the final round of the Women’s British Open. At this moment, Ariya Jutanugarn is leading the tournament after 54 holes. Golf Channels’ Rich Lerner and Judy Rankin are commenting about the length of Jutanugarn and the fact that she has the highest club head speed of any current player on the LPGA Tour.
She sits at 16-under while a friend of mine, Mo Martin (one of the shortest hitters on the LPGA Tour), is in third place at minus-12. Mo happens to hit the ball straighter than any other player on the LPGA Tour.
At 11-under is 46-year-old Catriona Matthew. Ariya is in her 20s. Mo is in her 30s. Catriona is in her 40s. All are in the top 10 of a “major” at the same time. What is the lesson? Feel free to find your favorite player on any major tour. You will find someone who has the same characteristics, talents, personality, and gifts as you.
Your behavior style will tend to dictate your style of play. Those who are high ‘D’ and ‘I’ players will tend to fire at pins and take risks. You could become a little bi-polar. Lots of birdies mixed in with doubles and triples. Those who are high ‘C’ and ‘S’ players will be steady. Tons of pars mixed with an occasional bogey. Once you know your style, you will be more aware of your tendencies.
If you are open to looking in the mirror, you can learn from your mistakes and work on your weaknesses. Maybe you need to play more conservative and eliminate some doubles. Or, maybe you need to take a couple of risks during the round so you can break that magic number.
How many times have you added up your score on the 17th hole, realize all you need to do is bogey the last hole to shoot the best round of your life ... and blow it?
Hopefully you have learned not to add up your score. No matter what you are shooting, you still need to play the last hole. Try to keep your mind occupied on what you are doing, while you are doing it. Do not think ahead or behind. Stay focused on the task at hand.
Being in the present means tuning out distractions and paying attention to what is important now. You cannot change the past but you can learn from it. When the same situation arises you can do things differently and become happier and more effective and successful.
Play Your Game
As Bagger Vance tell us, “Choose to play your game. Your authentic game. The one that was given to you as you came into this world. It’s a game that can’t be won, only played.”
Maybe it is time to find your place in the field.
Silver Creek native Cindy Miller, who counts the 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year award among her many golf accomplishments, is writing the “Own Your Game” column for The News. Her next column will appear Aug. 21.