During the final day of The 80th Masters, we once again witnessed that the outcome of a round for any golfer can change in the blink of an eye, or handful of holes. News outlets and golf experts have been labeling Jordan Spieth’s performance on holes 10-12 as a “collapse.” Sport psychologist, Dr. Gio Valiante even suggested that Spieth would likely suffer from “mental scar tissue” as a result of his experience at Augusta. I respectfully disagree with these assessments.
While Jordan certainly demonstrated a temporary lapse in focus, patience and smart strategy, it was indeed short-lived. Had he truly experienced a mental collapse on the back nine that could result in a scar to his psyche, we would not have seen him soldier on from #13 through #18 as he did. Jordan didn’t give in — he stepped up. His resilience was the antithesis of a collapse.
Like any sport, golf has brutal moments, and no golfer is immune to failure. But the true test of a golfer, at any level, is how he or she proceeds from those tough moments.
Have you considered how you would have finished the round at Augusta if you’d been in Jordan’s shoes? Would you have melted into a puddle of negativity, embarrassment, or hopelessness after losing the lead? How do you respond to a miss hit or bad hole now?
We all have the capacity to perform with excellence under pressure and survive difficulty in the midst of a round, but only when we learn to discipline our minds. A significant aspect to mastery in golf is a solid mental game. When a golfer develops the ability to manage his emotions, he can respond to any situation, no matter how difficult, from a place of control and objectivity.
Games rapidly unravel when golfers emotionalize and personalize the outcomes of their shots and rounds. When you choose to roll with your emotions, you give in to defeat. When you learn how to rise above your feelings and lead with your thoughts, you can mentally and physically rebound from adversity and step back up into the power seat of your game.
A couple of days following The Masters, Jordan’s caddie, Michael Greller posted an amazing statement on Facebook that says it all –
“The 2016 Masters stung…But don’t feel sorry or sad for us. We won’t get stuck in this moment, nor should you. We will work harder, fight harder and be better for it. We will bounce back as we have done many times. At the end of the day, golf is a sport…This isn’t life and death stuff. There are far greater struggles that exist in this world than not winning The Masters. We are beyond blessed to do what we do. We are grateful to work alongside the greatest golfers and caddies in the world. It is a challenge we relish. A wise coach reminded me recently, winning shows your character and losing shows ALL your character. Jordan continues to model grace and humility through wins and especially losses.”
My hope is that fans and experts alike will reflect on The 2016 Masters with admiration for Willett on his amazing performance, and equal admiration for Spieth’s mental toughness that enabled him to fight back from the clutches of failure. It will stand as a great example of the mental strength and self-belief that golfers should strive to develop in their games in order to play to win, no matter how many times the game knocks them to their knees.
If your tendency is to give in when tested by your game I hope you will consider learning how to step up and develop greater resilience like Jordan Spieth. Give me a call at 239.431.6810 when you are ready to discover how to PLAY GREAT!