In my preview column, I explained the nail. What is your why? You need to decide if you are motivated by stopping pain or seeking reward. I have found that many of my students are avoiding the truth. They either don’t understand the cause of their failure or refuse to acknowledge it. Denial is not a good thing.
When the Legends Tour was first starting, I was on a mission to play. I had to prove to myself the dream I had when I was 17 to play with the best players in the world wasn’t just a nightmare. Unfortunately, I wasn’t good enough to be exempt. I had to qualify for each tournament. There would be anywhere from five to 20 people vying for one or two spots. Eighteen holes, low score wins, everyone else, go home. Thanks for coming.
I drove to Evansville, Ind., from Silver Creek to try to qualify. Thirteen hours in the car, by myself one way. I played a practice round at Victoria National Golf Club and was ready to earn my spot in the tournament. I played horrible. I missed qualifying by one shot. No tournament for me. I had to get in the car and drive 13 hours home by myself.
I called my husband Allen and was crying on the phone telling him how bad I hit the ball, and how I missed qualifying by one shot. Remember, Allen Miller is a 15-year veteran of the PGA Tour. He is a Past Champion/Life Member and knows the ups and downs of playing competitive tournament golf. He listened to me whine for about five minutes and then said, “Cindy, this has absolutely nothing to do with your golf swing. This has everything to do with your head. You try too hard, then you can’t swing the club, then you hit it terrible. You must focus on the task at hand. If you aren’t willing to reveal the truth, you will never reach your potential.” Wow, how rude was that? The sad thing was, he spoke the truth. After I got over the shock, I made a deal with myself that I would learn how to improve my mental game. I would not allow this stupid game to bring me to tears again.
Everyone hits bad shots. Everyone. The mission is to understand why. Why did you do what you did? Were you comfortable over the ball? Did you take the time to choose the right shot? Were you totally committed to your decision, or did you have doubt? Did you evaluate the risk/reward factors? What are the chances you can pull this shot off? If you don’t have a 50/50 chance, maybe it isn’t such a wise choice.
The game of golf requires both the left and right brain to work to play your best. Your left brain handles all the calculating and your right brain imagines, visualizes, and feels the shot. You can choose the right shot, pick the perfect club, align the face, feel great, and swing terrible. Why? Usually there is doubt, apprehension, or fear. Sometimes there are underlying issues that can cause bad shots. “Like what?” You might ask. Like no belief in yourself. Maybe you choose shots that are beyond your ability, miss them, and then browbeat yourself. “Here we go again,” you might say. “I always choke on this hole.” This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Stop and listen to your inner voice. What is it saying?
My question to you is, “How bad does it have to hurt to be willing to change?” If you evaluate your game and have the courage to see the truth, I guarantee you can improve. Ask yourself, “How can I find three to 10 shots per round?” People come in for lessons and tell me they need to hit the golf ball farther. They say, “I have to get off the tee.” I ask them, “What do you shoot?” They say, “95 to 100.” Here is the truth: If you hit the golf ball 180-200 yards straight, you should be able to shoot 85-90 anywhere. Work on your short game and putting to be able to get the ball up and down and your scores will drop.
I urge you to eliminate the confusion. Seek clarity. Understand your own game. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you a long hitter who needs to hit more fairways, or a short hitter who needs to get it up and down? Are you willing to work on the aspects of your game that will bring you the most improvement or are you avoiding the truth?
I guarantee if you resolve to diminish the doubt, fight the fears, and stop the pain, you will be on your way to find “It.”
Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player, a current member of the Legends Tour of the LPGA, and a Golf Channel Academy Lead Coach. She is a Certified Behavior, Motivation, and Judgment Professional who is sought after as a speaker, coach, and corporate trainer. Reach out to her at email@example.com. Follow Cindy at cindymillergolf.com and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.