I thought it would be a good topic for today’s blog is that I saw a video clip last night of Tiger Woods hitting golf balls again and it got me thinking…
If you are a golf fan then you will no doubt realise the impact that Tiger has on the game of golf. Despite his recent misgivings, years of injuries and press coverage he still remains the most popular player in the field when he tees it up.
Whether it is because people want to see a glimmer of the man that once was, or if they want the chance to say that they saw him play, or simply because he is still a great player and might actually make a sneaky come back.
As a kid I was fixated on a career path to golfing success and spent hours each day at school thinking about my next round of golf and day dreaming about teeing it up next to guys like Tiger. As a young teenager, when I was handed a book about nurturing self confidence to become a great player I was in there like a shot.
If you speak to any old member of a golf club there will be a couple of things you’ll hear, one will be crazy golfing jokes and stories that will make you chuckle and the other is the undeniable reality that golf is possibly the most frustrating simulation of life that there ever has been.
I’ve played golf all around the world and met people who share the frustration of wanting to quit the game, scream, shout, rant and throw their golf clubs in the bin. And then the next day, after quiet reflection, they are back on the booking sheet or the course for their next round of golf.
The best example of frustration I can give you on this was when I was in Texas and playing the final qualifying round to make the team for the NJCAA Championships in 2007. I was leading the group of golfers coming into the last 7 holes, my game was on point, every shot I hit I visualised and implemented perfectly. I had managed to ignore the banter from the playing partners about the impending danger on each hole, their subtle way of trying to get in my head, and stepped up to the final stretch of holes with a decent lead.
The wind was up and the realisation hit home that I was making a seriously good impression on my coach. My whole year I had underperformed and I was putting words into action, hitting my stride and showing him shot by shot that I had what it took to be on the team.
I stepped up to hit my tee shot on the hardest hole on the course, I looked at my target and visualised the shot, I could see the coach in the distance watching with the rest of the team. With confidence I took the club back to hit the ball and for the briefest moment I let self doubt creep in, “don’t hit it out of bounds,” a little voice in my head said as I got to the top of my swing.
I looked up after making contact with the ball to see it start out right of my target line, the wind caught it, my body english signalling the ball to come back, every fibre in my body hoping for the wind to die down, but it wasn’t to be…
The ball sailed over the fence on the right of the course and landed in a field.
It was a moment that shook my confidence, it grabbed my mind and for the final few holes allowed for a series of smaller mistakes to roll through my scorecard and put me 2nd overall. I had lost, I had lost the chance to prove myself and the chance to travel with the team. Not only that I had lost the chance to make the team for the following year, I just didn’t know it until later in the year. Despite the set back I stepped onto the course every day afterwards, however the confidence knock and the fact that I couldn’t be on the team stopped my pursuit of professional golf.
There are a few things that I learned from that experience that I try to relate to life when I can:
- Bad things will happen, life will throw a tonne of crap your way but the world won’t stop moving while you try and deal with it. So you have to gain your momentum back as quickly as you can and learn from the crap that has been thrown in your way. Easier said than done, it took me a good few years to learn my lessons and then just when I thought I had gotten back on the horse there were some more obstacles to dodge.
- Self help books and guidance notes to better golf (and life) are not the answer. I read tonnes of golf psychology articles. I listened to hypnosis DVDs and psychology audio tapes, the only truly good way to apply any of it was to actually go out on the course and actively stay in the moment. Deal with each shot as a unique and individual situation rather than thinking about the day before or the shot before. I knew what I needed to do because all the books and DVDs had said it, but applying it was something that took time to engrain and even now is tough to master. (I mean that about this blog too, there, although it might help plant a seed in your mind, you have to apply everything yourself when you are ready.)
- If you give up at the first set back then you never give yourself the chance to succeed. I hit my first big set back when I didn’t qualify for the team it was the first time I really had a big obstacle to over come. There are many paths I could have taken in the pursuit of professional golf but I reacted by giving up on that dream, sure I still teed it up socially, but the inability to get back to my career pursuit led me to places I didn’t want to go. I have to remind myself of it each day, the same way I tell clients that progression comes in many forms, and the route to your success might not be visible straight away.
When I saw Tiger hitting golf balls again I thought to myself, “wow, he is still chipping away at his goals.” Granted his goals might have shifted from 10 years ago but he is still trying to push past his set backs, his personality flaws and be the best version of himself that he can. What that means for his future in golf is unclear but what is clear is that there is never a time to give up on yourself. Tiger hasn’t and if you think about it he shows the traits of a Tiger, tough, mighty, and dynamic, something we all can be!
Go out there and have an awesome week and remember, IN EVERYONE THERE LURKS A TIGER!
Stay Strong and Keep Moving!