How to control your temper and play better golf, in 3 steps
My two weeks in Dublin are in the rearview, and despite having to spend a lot of time in my hotel room, I had a thrilling time.
The Workday Charity Open was fun, and The Memorial was incredible. It felt like a Major Championship; the golf-nerd inside me was thoroughly entertained by the conditions and the complete test the event presented the high octane field.
Tournament-winner Jon Rahm deserves every accolade for the four-round performance he put forth. Coming off an iffy performance in the Workday, Rahm was working hard in preparation for the Memorial. I chatted briefly with him on Tuesday afternoon, during a practice round, and his resolve and focus were evident. He appeared to be playing into confidence as he practiced from some pretty challenging spots around the greens. Indeed it also seemed that he had a vision of the upcoming examination.
There is a lesson in that — how important practice rounds are, and I preach this constantly to all of my tournament-playing clients — but we will get to that another time.
Right now I want to acknowledge Jon Rahm’s performance at the Memorial. He was masterful, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. In fact, in my opinion it was the most complete performance I have seen him assemble, and it was fitting that the victory propelled him to the top of the pile in the Official World Golf Rankings.
There is a lot to be learned from Jon Rahm and his journey. On the golf course Rahm’s mental and emotion travails have been well documented. Recognizing his misgivings, he has worked with a former Bomb Disposal expert, Joseba del Carmen, to help manage his emotional outbursts and reactions.
In the past he has mentioned to me that it has been a work in progress, but he clearly arrived at the top of his game in the most challenging conditions at Jack’s Place.
You may not have access to a Sports Psychologist, or Bomb Disposal expert, but you can apply three principles to help you consistently deal with the inevitable ups and downs and ebbs and flows a round of golf will throw at you.
Just remember P.A.R…
1. P stands for Patience
The dictionary lists the words “forbearance, long-suffering, sufferance, tolerance” as synonyms for patience. What words could possibly be more applicable to the game of golf?
Golfers toss around the word patience at every turn. Indeed it is a cliché that a lot of golfers use but that don’t completely understand. Instead, consider long-suffering, consider tolerance when golf slaps you around your gills. Be tolerant, be long-suffering; I promise you things will turn around if you just stay in the game. Don’t give in.
2. A stands for Acceptance
A stands for Acceptance. The ability to accept your fate and not bemoan it is a skill that all of the greats exhibit. All too often I encounter golfers, who by their actions, and words, are not completely accepting of an event. This is detrimental to focus and, in the end, performance.
Consider the following statements: “I can’t believe that happened.” “Why didn’t the ball end there?” “How many bad bounces am I going to get?” (Insert your favorite phrase here.) Eliminate them from your lexicon and become accepting of whatever happens. News Flash – a golf ball ends up in some crazy places and great golfers accept this reality and use it as an opportunity to show off their skills and powers of recovery.
3. R stands for Resolve
As a noun, resolve means “fixity of purpose or resoluteness”. Be resolute in resolving problems, finding answers to challenges, and sticking to your purpose when in the heat of competition.
This very mindset is elemental to consistent success. Success when things are going right and also when your golf swing feels like a folding-up lawnchair and things seem to be coming apart at the seams. Resolve to be brave, strong, positive and steadfast in mind and approach.
Apart from the odd hiccup, Jon Rahm embraced patience and it showed. He was accepting of everything (including a late penalty), and he was resolute in his mission… and it paid dividends.
Be like Jon!