Never Give Up!
A US Amateur Lesson for Hurricane Junior Golfers
Dr. Bob Winters
Question: What makes a good junior player a great junior champion? Is it the talent in which he or she swings the club? Is it based on their previous successes in junior competitions? Is it that great junior players create an attitude for success that allows them to believe in themselves right from the first tee? Perhaps any if not all of these things contribute greatly to one’s golfing greatness, but there are two things that all great golfers possess. Based on my experience with successful golfers all over the world of differing levels and abilities (and especially junior golfers) the most basic reasons for their success is based on two simple premises:
1. You have to believe in your talent before you can ever have success. 2. You have to play and perform with all you have and never give up!
It's just that simple. If we examine the recent 2012 US Amateur Championship that was held at Cherry Hills in Denver, Colorado we can learn a number of things. The first is that anything can happen during a round of golf in match play and tournament competition...and it often does. Secondly, performing your skill and playing for score in a tournament is never over until the last putt is in the hole and the entire event is over. If you watched the final match between US Amateur finalists Michael Weaver and Steven Fox, you would have seen firsthand how hanging in there and staying strong and patient pays off in the end.
If you were to ask 2012 US Amateur Champion Steven Fox what was the one thing that he did all week that allowed him to win, I can tell you for a fact (because I am his mental coach) is that he never gave up believing in his talent and he continued to play until all of the golf shots were over! Being two down with two holes to play, Steven hung in there and awaited his opportunity to make his birdie putt on 17 to go one down heading into the 18th hole.
Upon watching Michael Weaver miss his par putt on the final hole of the 36 hole match and drawing even with his par, they went into a playoff for the title. Going into the 37th hole with new life is what Steven Fox provided himself and he made the most of his opportunity when he made a slick 18 foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to capture the ultimate championship for an amateur golfer. Steven Fox played his game and never gave up the hope that he could win. Focusing on executing his game plan to the end is what helped him achieve a victory as the 2012 US Amateur champion!
The issue of believing in your talent and never giving up on yourself while you are playing is such an important element to achieving greatness on the golf course and ultimately, in your personal and professional life as well. Let me explain a bit how you can create this level of personal persistence towards your golfing goals!
Believing in Your Talent – Premise # 1 The most effective way that you can create an attitude for great golf is to realize that your mind generates positive thoughts and feelings. Almost every junior player who has won a top amateur event agrees that when you use your mind correctly and believe in yourself, it is the best piece of equipment in the bag. Also, the ability to turn the power on and off is as simple as saying YES or NO to yourself when you begin your pre-shot routine. The pre-shot routine is basically a procedure of organized behaviors and thoughts that allow your mind and body to function at an optimum, automatic level when hitting the ball.
But, long before you take the first tee, you have to develop a sound philosophy that whatever you do on this particular day and whatever happens.....you are going to give 100% commitment into the fact that you are going to give every shot your best effort! I am not just talking about giving “a trying or feeble effort” for 12 to 13 holes, but doing this for the entire 18 hole round and tournament! It is much easier to write and talk about than it is to do it, but first you have to make a mental and emotional commitment to yourself that this is what you are going to do..............all day long!
This deep belief in your talent and the determined resolve you create for yourself must be felt and experienced long before you walk into and address the ball. As you take your first step into the address position, you have to make a choice that what you are doing now is first and foremost the most important thing in your life at that moment. Nothing else matters except for this shot. You make the choice to believe in yourself at this particular moment. This means that you must have faith in your ability, your decision making and your swing. Faith (as used in this context regarding golf) is having the power to believe in your talent when there are not tangible bits of evidence to confirm or refute that spiritual foundation. Therefore, faith that you will persevere in the face of golfing doubt or uncertainty is having the ultimate faith in yourself! I realize that many junior golfers may not understand the value of faith and positive feelings versus the physical feelings of hitting a powerful drive or sinking a long putt. But the truth remains, that if you can have faith in your talent, you are ahead of your junior peers in almost every department. The notion of having faith in your talent means that you give yourself permission to say “YES” to yourself when standing over a shot. Belief in your golfing talent is the ultimate power switch that you turn on or turn off for yourself.
Playing to Win and Refusing to Lose!
It is a sad fact, but many junior players sabotage their golf games by the words in which they choose to say to themselves. Their self-talk is basically all negative and destructive. By saying “NO” to yourself before you step into your shot is a sure-fire way to sabotage your success and damage your ability to have faith in yourself. Words and phrases such as “There’s just NO way that I can hit that green,” or, there’s NO way that this putt is going to drop!” are forecasts of doom and gloom. Junior champions do not use negative self talk.
In fact, the greatest junior champions all tell me that they “play to win” and “refuse to lose”! What this really means is that they play with gusto from start to finish and will not let negative feelings or thoughts of giving up ever enter their minds. If those weak minded and lack of willpower thoughts come in, they simply refuse to listen to the negativity and get back to their basic need for wanting to give each shot 100% commitment and effort! You should do the same!
Junior champions realize the value of doing everything they can to keep their confidence strong and their momentum moving in a positive direction. By saying “YES….I CAN DO THIS!” to yourself and directing your energy into what you want to achieve (a positive focus), you have used your willpower to proceed into the direction of success and have increased your faith in yourself as a junior golfer.
The Words You Use have POWER!
Faith is a powerful force, but when you are stepping into a shot, you also must use your imagination and willpower to enhance that faith. To do this, you must use your self-talk to provide yourself with some empowering affirmations (words or word phrases that provide you with self-motivating energy). Affirmations such as: “This is my day and this is my moment!” Or, “I will step into this shot and give myself the best chance possible to focus and swing towards my target! It could also be: “I am going to do this now!” It could be even as simple an affirmation as “Come on now, stay focused and get into your target!” By providing yourself with a positive and golf-specific affirmation may be the “pump or pep-talk” to move you through the wall of doubt and negativity.
A Final Word to Junior Golfers
One of the most important things you need to learn as a junior golfer is to make a clear decision to say “YES” to yourself before you step onto the first tee to start your tournament day. By making a decision to say “YES” before each shot may not always guarantee success, but at least it gives you a chance to execute as well as you can on every shot. Conversely, by making the decision to think and say “NO” before each shot almost always guarantees a negative action and result. Therefore, the notion of tapping into your ability to choose “YES” to your talent becomes vital. By making a conscious “YES” decision before you step into the ball will increase your sense of confidence and ultimately lead to more control and consistency!
May you always have the courage and willpower to Play to Win and Refuse to Lose! Never, ever give up and watch how you can create magic by believing in your talent. IF you don’t believe me, just go and ask Steven Fox. After all, he is now the 2012 US Amateur Champion!
May you always play to win and refuse to lose!
Dr. Bob Winters
Mental Game Consultant Hurricane Junior Golf Tour