Concepts for Success

Fri, Dec 3rd, 2021
Concepts for success Concepts for success

One day I was coaching a 60 year old golfer, who had been playing for 20 years. Let’s just say he had limited ability to play – his h’cap was 36 and he had never played to it. After topping one ball after another, I asked him his concept on how to get the ball in the air. He looked at me bemused, and then said what a silly question I had asked. He said you have to lift it up in the air, and then imitated a lifting motion with his arms. I then asked him to watch me hit 5 shots, and before hitting I drew a line in the grass, lined up 5 balls and then hit 5 shots (all in the air!). After the line there were 5 divots. I asked him which balls flew higher, his or mine (after all he had called my question silly!). He was amazed that I had actually hit the ground after the ball, in order to get the ball in the air. He then proceeded to try this himself, and later that day he played under his h’cap for the first time ever. The first step to success is having the RIGHT CONCEPTS. This is the soil on which to grow your golf game.

At Elite Player Level,  this is 99% of my work at the early stages with players. So few players have the right CONCEPTS FOR SUCCESS – after all I know I certainly didn’t when I was a young player. Only after a 5 years research project on Tour identifying the Critical Success Factors at Tour Level, and then being fortunate to have the opportunity to coach part time on the European Tour at 10 -12 tournaments per year over the last decade, have I really been able to truly understand the correct CONCEPTS FOR SUCCESS.

One Concept I would like to discuss today is that Failure is a necessary ingredient for success. And probably to be more specific, how you process Failure or Difficulty will be a strong defining factor in the level of success you are able to achieve in your golf career.

The fact is, golf is a series of ups and downs. You may birdie the first hole, and then bogey the next one. On the third hole you may hit a poor drive, and then hit a great iron shot. Even the players that win tournaments often have a 6 to 8 shot swing between their best and worst round during the week – and that’s when they are playing at their best!

So I think once concept I want every player to understand, is that ups and downs are an integral part of the game. When players say ‘I just want to be consistent and avoid shotting above 75’, it shows a lack of understanding of the game. Last season, Dustin Johnson was World No 1 and his best round was 63 and worst was 78 – a 15 shot swing – and that’s the No 1 player in the world!

However how you REACT to these ups and downs will definitely impact on your future performance. And this is something that can be trained and conditioned.

A bad response is to LOSE confidence. Let’s take an example – your putts on the several first holes are the wrong speed and it would be possible to then internally process this with the thought ‘I can’t get the speed of the greens today’. Or ‘I’m not putting very well today’. These types of thoughts, or LABELS, will have a negative impact on CONFIDENCE - a critical ingredient to perform your best.

The other option – and best response - is that players see poor shots, poor rounds, poor tournaments as FEEDBACK, on which they can action in order to get better. Look at these examples below:


Bad response

Good response

4 x 3 putts

I’m a poor putter/Putting is letting me down

Work on distance and lag putting practice

Look at my acceleration profile with my coach

4x missed cuts

I’m not good enough to compete at this level

What did I do well, and what areas of the game can I look to improve? What strategies can I engage to make marginal improvements in these areas

Poor season

All this training and effort is for nothing, I’m just not talented or good enough

Difficulty and challenge is the weather for character growth. Even Rory has seasons where his results regress. What can I learn from this to make the next season the best ever?

A further concept to also absorb, is that difficulty and failure is the necessary weather to grow outstanding performance skills like determination and resilience - ‘Rough seas build Strong Sailors’ I encourage players to embrace difficulty, but then critically coach and look to condition their response so they grow from failure and difficulty, as opposed to shrink and lose confidence. The control switch always lies within you, so understand the concept that failure is an integral part of the game, but look to train and condition your response, albeit a shot, a hole, a round, a tournament or a season.


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