What is “IT”? You know, your game. Your swing. Your confidence.
How many times have you said to yourself, “I’ve got 'IT' now?” Then five minutes later, “IT” is gone again.
To play your best you not only have to know how to swing the club, you need to know how to hit shots, how far you hit the ball, how to figure out yardage, wind, your lie, when to go for “IT” and when to lay up. You need to be able to think yourself around a golf course. Then to top that off, you need to be able to stay in emotional control when you happen to miss “IT.”
I have this thing called the “IT Box.” The box is a metaphor for things you want in life. You see, I hate whining. I love the game of golf, because you typically get out of it what you put into it. No one is exempt from the lessons. I believe it makes “IT” fair.
There are three things in the “It Box.” The box and objects in “IT” do not matter unless you are pursuing something important to you. The first thing in the box is a nail. Let me explain.
There was a traveling salesman who got lost as he was driving to find his next appointment. He was in the middle of farm country, so he pulled up into a driveway to ask for directions. There was a farmer sitting on the porch in his rocking chair with a black lab lying next to him. The salesman got out of the car and as he walked up to the porch he heard a moaning sound coming from the dog. The dog kept making the moaning sound. As the man was about to open his car door to leave, he asked the farmer, “What is the matter with your dog?”
The farmer said, “Oh, not much, he is OK. He is just lying on a nail.”
The salesman asked the farmer, “Why doesn’t he get up off the nail?”
The farmer replied, “Because it doesn’t hurt bad enough.”
How bad does the nail have to hurt to get up and do something about it? The nail signifies your “why.”
The first step to own “IT” is to know your personal “why.” Are you motivated by stopping pain, or do you seek reward? Do you want to stop looking like a hack, or do you want to break 100, 90, 80, or 70? We all know the game of golf is a difficult one. You are going to miss shots. Knowing your “why” will help you when you feel like quitting, when you are down in the dumps, when you have had enough.
The second thing in the box is a mirror. If you truly want to find your “IT” you must be willing to look in the mirror. The best players in the world are very self-aware. They know themselves, their strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and areas that need the most improvement. They are not afraid to look in the mirror.
The third thing in the box is a seed. Once you know your “why” and what you want, you need to do something about it. Plant a seed. Water “IT.” Give “IT” time to grow.
The three controls in finding “IT” are physical, mental and emotional.
If you watched the last round of The Masters, you had the opportunity to witness all three of the controls. Rory McIlroy lost his physical control. He was not able to hit the ball straight enough off the tee. Hitting from the trees always makes scoring more difficult.
Patrick Reed displayed mental control like I have not seen in quite some time. He stayed focused on the task at hand and very rarely allowed himself to display any emotion. I often wondered if he was having any fun at all. I believe his “why” might be to prove something to the world.
Jon Rahm needs some help with his emotional control. He tends to get a little too ticked off on the course. When you get so upset you display outward emotions, it tends to linger longer than you think. This will affect your performance.
I suggest you make a commitment to yourself to find “IT” this year.
Try to find a golf swing that makes sense to you, one that you can repeat. Figure out how far you hit each of your clubs. Write the yardages down. Keep them in your bag. Be realistic. Practice your short shots. Be sure you know how to fly the ball 10 yards, 20, 30, 40, and 50 yards on purpose. Can you hit it high and low? Write down what you need to do to accomplish those tasks.
Do you have a pre-shot routine? Do you know how to plan, prepare and produce a golf shot? Can you think your way around the course? Sometimes you don’t really need a golf lesson. You need a thinking lesson. Maybe it’s time to learn how to think your way around the course.
Do you tend to get a little too ticked off on the course? I believe that comes from unrealistic expectations. Maybe it is time to reveal the truth and play your game within your skill level and be willing to accept yourself. If you are willing to do that, my guess is you might play more relaxed and hit better golf shots. You might even enjoy playing more.
Remember, this is only a game. Challenge yourself to be willing to find your “IT.” Be willing to get off the nail, look in the mirror to reveal the truth, and then be willing to do something about it. If you do, you can find “IT.”
Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player, a current member of the Legends Tour of the LPGA, a Golf Channel Academy Lead Coach and a certified behavior, motivation and judgment professional. Reach out to Cindy on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.