A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Australian Open last year. I ran into my old mate, former tour pro and fellow Australian Golf Digest columnist Grant Dodd. ‘Doddy’ can often be spotted walking the fairways at the big tournaments providing television commentary inside from the ropes for the Seven Network. Watching and listening to him shadow the leading golfers, it’s easy to see he has spent a great deal of time on the fairways.

We caught up for a wine (or three) after Matt Jones lifted the Stonehaven Cup and promised to find some time in the diary to have a game of golf together. I love nothing more than having a round with exceptionally gifted players. They force you lift your game – you focus a little more and always come away with a sly golf tip or two.

Golf to me is a game of the great unknown; a mystery draw. When I arrive at a golf course, I never really have any idea how I’m going to play. I don’t play enough and I never find time to practise – so why would I expect my game to be anything other than inconsistent? It’s either celebrations or commiserations. I have some days when every part of my game comes together and I’m loaded with self-confidence, finally believing I have this game sorted. Then there are the days when I feel good, have had plenty of sleep, have come off a few nice rounds and proceed to play like a busted pipe, spraying things in every direction.

When I work on my business, or face a new challenge I always practise the power of self-belief. Golf should be no different.
When I work on my business, or face a new challenge I always practise the power of self-belief. Golf should be no different.

So Grant and I found a spare day in our diaries, and the sun was shining. He arrives at The Australian Golf Club with his beloved, dusty old sticks that haven’t seen the light of day for six months. He says he “can’t remember the last time he hit a ball” as he talks down his game. We figure we’ll warm up on the first nine. He lines up on the par-5 first and pumps one straight down the middle. Game on.

As much as he knows the feel of The Aus – having walked behind Spieth, Ogilvy and Jones for four days – Doddy hasn’t had a chance to play the course since Jack Nicklaus redesigned it a few years ago. Suffice to say, he nails the first with a neat par while I scrape around for a bogey and on we go.

I watch with awe and delight as he weaves his magic, earning classy pars on every hole of the front nine. It forces me to question why Doddy ever gave up his tour card – why he strides the fairways with a microphone instead of his sticks.

As we tidy up the par-4 10th, we make our way to the toughest par 3 on the course. The false front on the 11th can penalise you for a great shot. So I remark to Doddy, “I hate this hole! It kills me every time”. He said, “Deb, half your problem is your negative self-chat! You should say ‘I LOVE this hole’. You should also listen to yourself when you hit your driver – you’re yelling out ‘Ohhh noooo’ but it actually ends up being a great shot. You’ve got to change your mindset.”

Well, that shut me right up. Being the guru of all things Balance and priding myself on practising a positive mental attitude, I thought, I should know that. But for some ridiculous reason with golf, any sense of self-belief and positive attitude can fly off into the bushes at any time, with one of my shanks. Grant was telling me about Gary Player, who was renowned for verbally embracing the elements on the day. Whether he was doing it for himself or trying to put his opponents off before a big match, he was often heard talking about how much he loved playing in the howling wind, or putting on greens in poor condition. Whatever was thrown at him, he put a positive mental spin on it.

They say golf teaches life’s most valuable skills, and Doddy reminded me of one of the most important ones. When I work on my business, or face a new challenge I always practise the power of self-belief; envisioning that I can nail any task without holding myself back. I try to accept the outcome, whatever that may be. Why should golf be any different?

As Sam Snead said, “Of all the hazards, fear is the worst.”

Deborah Hutton
Publisher balancebydeborahhutton.com.au