Surround yourself with golfing partners who have confidence in your ability.
You have to agree we can be our own worst enemies, especially on the golf course.
As the great amateur golfer Bobby Jones once said, “Golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course – the space between your ears”.
We have days of perfect harmony; feeling like we’ve finally got this game nailed. Marvelling at our own ability and wondering what happened to last week’s hack that couldn’t even hit a ball.
Why am I playing my pants off today when I couldn’t find an open face last week? Where does our confidence stem from and why is it with us some days and others not? Wouldn’t you love to be able to just dial it in?
Well, it’s all in the mind. I know, I know – that’s cliché. But it really is – I see it when I’m glued to the TV watching the Major championships, or when I’m playing with friends.
It was a fantastic season in the men’s Majors. I’m constantly amazed how the pros can get themselves out of deep trouble with an insanely good shot that gets them back into contention again.
Jordan Spieth, for example, in the US PGA Championship final round at Whistling Straits. Trapped underneath a bunker lip with an awkward lie, he nails the shot to within a metre of the hole. You could even overhear him saying to his caddie that it was an extremely tough shot. Yet he gives it everything he’s got and pulls it off.
A magic mix of skill, confidence and self-belief. A powerful cocktail, that in the right hands is unbeatable.
It couldn’t have been more of a contrast between Dustin Johnson walking down the par-5 18th hole at Chambers Bay at the US Open, and Jason Day closing out his first Major at the US PGA Championship. D.J. reached the green in two with his impressive length, and then three-putted from semi-close range to lose the title. Day, on the other hand, nailed his drive on the final hole with his heart in his stomach and finished the job in a teary, yet joyful state.
Yes, Day had stumbled before, but the difference in the two golfers was a mental state. Day wanted it more than anyone else, D.J. was afraid of failure.
But it’s not just the tour players. I remember carrying the bag of a friend playing in the Australian Masters Pro-Am at Victoria Golf Club in 2011. She wanted to play well, but as the day wore on with the odd wayward shot, she began to second-guess herself. She can play pretty well when she gets her swing together but when doubt creeps in, it can get ugly.
At one point we find ourselves on the left side of the green, in the rough and having to chip over a bunker to the pin. She’s worried about duffing it into the sand and begins a boardroom debate about the best approach with half a dozen friends who have decided to join us for the ride. I shouted, “ENOUGH! Grab your sand wedge and hit that bloody ball over the bunker and onto the green! You’re good enough, so just do it!” She looked at me terrified. But she followed my orders and … hit the perfect shot. A beautiful flop shot. Job done.
All it took was somebody else to give her a boost of self-confidence when hers had all but abandoned her. No wonder Day’s ‘surrogate dad’ Col Swatton means so much to him … if only we could all have a ‘Col’ behind us.
Believing in yourself and your abilities is crucial to building self-confidence, but this is easier said than done. Sometimes you not only have to prove it to yourself, but be reminded of what you’re capable of from others who support you and believe in you.
So surround yourself with people who have confidence in you and encourage you to be fearless. If you truly believe in yourself, and commit to what you want in life, whether that’s on a golf course or in the game of life … amazing things can happen.
Know that you are good enough, and brilliant enough to achieve great things.
• Deborah Hutton – Publisher