What memories does the Masters hold for you? That special time of the golfing year when the annual tournament helps us say goodbye to the harshness of winter and look forward to all the promises of spring and another golfing season full of opportunity.
For me, I only have to close my eyes and I can still see images from my youth such as Sandy Lyle playing that amazing 7 iron from the fairway bunker on the final hole to secure his victory, or Ian Woosnam pumping the air after draining a final green putt in 1991.
It was a golden era for European golf at Augusta as others such as Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal secured the green jacket. But one man started it all off, the great Severiano Ballesteros
There is a wonderful picture of a very young, fresh faced, short haired, Ballesteros excitedly shaking hands with Gary Player on the final green of the 1978 US Masters at Augusta. He was later to say what he had just witnessed gave him tremendous inspiration for the rest of his great and illustrious career.
That inspiration was because he had witnessed at first hand one of the greatest final rounds in the history of major championship golf. Going into the final round, South African Player found himself trailing leader Hubert Green by seven shots. Nobody gave him a chance being so far back. He wasn’t even on the winner’s radar. Player though had different ideas.
His final round started at a steady if unspectacular pace but then the final ten holes were an explosion of scoring fuelled by one of the greatest golfing minds ever to play the game. Player had seven birdies in those final ten holes culminating in that famous low armed fist clench on the 18th hole as he drained a fifteen-foot birdie putt right into the centre of the cup.
64 blows gave Player an agonising hour’s wait before all of the other leaders fell by the wayside and he was able to call himself the Masters champion once more and slip on the coveted green jacket. The comment Player made afterwards is a tremendous example of a mindset that made him such a great golfer.
“One of the things I am is an eternal optimist. I was playing excellent golf but I hadn’t made any putts all week. But you have to keep on aiming at them.”
You have to keep on aiming at them.
Maybe this one sentence sums up what is required to get the best out of yourself at golf and for that matter, life itself.
Most of the time the putts are not dropping, most of the time our game is less than we would like it to be, the world isn’t bending to our particular whims and desires. Many give up and start to blame. They look for excuses. They look for a way to escape to more comfortable and less challenging pastures. Not Player. You have to keep aiming at them.
I once heard Nick Faldo talk about the power of intention. He said that no force was as powerful on a golf course than that of clear intention.
I couldn’t agree more.
I would say when you combine the forces intention and acceptance then you will get close to being the best you can be.
The example could be a single putt or it could be the whole round. Have a very clear intention of what you want to do with this putt right here and now in this moment. Where exactly do you see the ball entering the hole. See and feel the pace that will give the ball the best chance of finding the bottom of the cup.
With that clear intention your body has a map to follow. It has a clear instruction as to what you want it to do. Send the ball on its way and one of two things will happen, the ball will go in or it will miss. Either way you accept the outcome and move on to your next intention.
The alternative is to start moaning about your luck, the condition of the greens, the weather, your playing partners or anything else you can think of affecting what you think your version of the world should be. If you don’t accept the outcome you don’t move on and your intention is weakened on the next putt, shot or opportunity. You have to keep aiming at them.
It could well be that single phrase uttered by Gary Player should be written down by all of us and stuck up on the metaphorical screen of our mind as a constant reminder of a simple principle understood by so few.
The key is to look closely at the possibilities and then embrace the opportunity and take some action. Book that lesson, organise the trip to the course you always wanted to play, get out and do some practice. Keep aiming at them and they will start to fall in.
To book Karl Morris to present his Mind Factor workshop at YOUR club go to www.themindfactor.com
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