The PGA Tour Latin America was in Mazatlan the last week in March and it was so refreshing to watch these guys play the game at such a high level. Why in the world do we make it so hard?!
Most of the players were in their early twenties. When I think of young men in their early twenties I think of college students who may or may not have selected a specific career direction and are specializing in enjoying the “good times” of college life and all that it involves. Not the case with this group!
It doesn’t take long to realize they are very dedicated professional athletes, following their dreams and doing whatever it takes to give them the best possible opportunity to achieve their goal of playing on the PGA Tour.
They are running on the beach at sunrise and working out in the gym. Their day consists of eat, practice, play (or work on the course), more practice, a little down time, and sleep. They are in training and it shows in every aspect of their lives.
Their dedication and focus is incredible, but the thing I find most impressive is their discipline. Not just the discipline they have with their golf swings and training and lifestyle, but the discipline they exhibit with their emotions while on the golf course. I didn’t see even a minor meltdown, yet there have been plenty of shots that, by their standards, were far below their expectations.
No clubs slamming into the ground, no profanity – these guys would never fit in with most groups on Saturday mornings at the local clubs. Sure, they get upset, but one shot does not change their outlook on the round. They know bad shots and bad bounces are going to happen. It’s a fact of life in the world of golf.
For these young players their focus is solely on improving their skills and anything that will help them accomplish their goal of obtaining a PGA Tour card. That’s it! With their livelihood and dreams on the line they know a key component, and possibly the most important component to posting a good score, is to keep their emotions under control – never too high and never too low.
We’ve all acted like a 5 year old on Christmas morning after making a birdie on a tough hole, only to see the “birdie honeymoon” crash with a big score on the next hole.
We tend to mimic our favorite players from their swing to their clothing, but we tend to forget one of the more subtle and most important parts of their game, their discipline. Much of the time you don’t know if they are 5 under par or 5 over par, because they don’t get caught on that emotional roller coaster. They keep the emotions pretty flat because they understand the ups and downs are just part of the game.
I take the approach that the golf course will be hard on me from time to time and add strokes to my scorecard. If I accept the course has the power to do that, I have found the course will also give back by granting me a few long putts or good bounces along the way.
Instead of pounding so many balls on the driving range, try working on your mental discipline. It could very well turn out to be the best club in your bag!
Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.