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Own Your Game by Cindy Miller: To thine own self be true

Our last two articles discussed why some people make it, while others do not. I then asked you to define your why. Why do you want to play? What are you looking for? Do you want to get the ball in the air and play well enough not to embarrass yourself? Would you like to lower your handicap? Do you want to be more consistent, or do you want to play competitive golf and see how good you can really be?

The pregame is next. We will be discussing the one thing that controls the golf ball. You. You are the only one holding the club. Let’s assume you have some realistic goals, have the time and resources to invest in yourself, and you want to make a plan to achieve them. My first question to you would be, “Who are you?” Are you a risk taker and love to fire at the flag, or do you prefer to play it safe and consistent?

Is there a difference between Rickie Fowler and Jason Day? Rickie Fowler is an outgoing risk taker. As we witnessed in the 2016 Phoenix Open, Rickie lost in a four-hole playoff to Hideki Matsuyama after he hit his tee shot on 17 into the water during regulation play. He then hit his tee shot into the water again on 17 on the last hole of the playoff.

Jason Day did not smile coming down the stretch at this year’s Players until he hit his approach shot on 18 to within 20 feet. Why? He was on a mission to win The Players. Why? He wants to earn the right to be inducted into The Hall of Fame. He did not let up until the goal was accomplished.

There are four basic personality/behavior types. It is imperative for you to know yours. Some of you may have done a DISC profile or Myers-Briggs at the office or an offsite team-building event. During my quest to fix my own game, I was on a mission to find out “why” I miss shots. In the process, I earned certifications in behavior, motivation, judgment, emotional intelligence, and mental coaching. Yes, I was my own first student.

People that are high “D” are fast-paced, task-oriented, competitive and driven. High “I” people are fast-paced, people-oriented, have a ton of friends and tend to talk a lot. People that are “S” types are slow-paced, task-oriented, quiet and stay in the background. High “C” people are slow- paced, people-oriented, very conscientious, deliberate and tend to be perfectionists.

Rickie Fowler is a mix of I and D. Jason Day is a D/C. Jim Furyk is a C, and Ernie Els is an S. Each player has their own distinctive style.

It is important for you to understand who you are and learn to play within that style. The funny thing is, we tend to date or marry the opposite style from us. Many high D people date or marry high S styles, and high C people date or marry high I’s. We gravitate to what we do not have. This can cause conflict on the golf course.

Let’s say you are a high C (accountant, architect or engineer) and you are dating or married to a high C (salesperson or relationship specialist). The high C would tend to have all their clubs in the bag organized, they are always early because they hate being late, and their significant other/spouse is never organized, always late and talks incessantly on the course; which of course, drives the high C crazy.

How can you learn to cope? Awareness is No. 1. Once you know who you are, you can do something about it! The strength of a high D is being courageous. The weakness is taking unnecessary risks. They will tend to make a ton of birdies along with doubles and triples.

People that are high I tend to be very creative. They pull shots out of the bag no one else sees. Their weakness is they do not pay attention to details. The high S will tend to be the most consistent, but may have trouble going for a par 5 in two. They need to learn to take calculated risks. They have a fear of messing up. The high C is a perfectionist. They will practice diligently, trying to get it right. Because they want everything just right, they tend to be slow players. Their fear is messing up.

The second thing you need to know is how do you learn? Do you want to see it, feel it or hear it? Let’s say you have to go somewhere you have never been. You are not allowed to use GPS or your phone to help you get there. Would you want me to:

Tell you how to get there?

Read written directions?

Look at a map?

Some people like to get their swings videotaped so they can see themselves, while others prefer to use teaching aides that help them feel the right swing. Some use a metronome to practice with to get their timing just right.

The key to improving is knowing yourself. Identify your why, decide what you want, and we can create the how.

Silver Creek native Cindy Miller, who counts the 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year award among her many golf accomplishments, is writing an “Own Your Game” column for The News. Her next column will appear June 11.