Harold Varner III admits he’s always had trouble focusing. Most of the time on the golf course it never mattered — growing up he was usually beating everyone anyway. But on the PGA Tour, even saving one stroke a tournament is invaluable.
So when Varner got the chance to ask Tiger Woods, a player with arguably the greatest mental game ever, how he focuses, Varner listened. He recounted the story while appearing on this week’s GOLF Subpar Podcast with co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz.
Knost asked Varner: “All the time you’ve spent around Tiger, is there one thing that sticks out, that you’ve taken away from him?”
“Yes, so I’ll never forget. I asked him, ‘Hey man, what do you do to focus?'” Varner said. “My dad always talked to me about I need to focus. And [Tiger’s] like, ‘Actually, I hear everything.’ I was like, ‘What?’ And I’m thinking, ‘Well, we only got like 20 more feet to walk before everyone is going to be around you.’ He goes, ‘Playing golf is like reading a book with the TV on.’ So I go home, I get this book out, and I haven’t read a book in forever.”
Woods’ reasoning, according to Varner? If you are reading a book and the TV is on and the volume is up, and you can still read and comprehend everything in that book without being distracted, you are essentially drowning out the noise and teaching yourself to focus on one specific thing (the book) while blocking out others (the TV). You know the latter is there, but you aren’t letting it affect you. Just like focusing on your next golf shot among a frenzy of fans.
After trying it at home, Varner understood.
“I was like, I get it,” Varner said. “And it made me become more me. I can hear everything. Yeah it was nuts. … I know when it’s time for me to do my job and do my thing. I can hear everything. I can relax. But I know what I’m trying to achieve. I’m not stressing more to try and focus. I hear everything. It’s OK. Just go about your day.”
Varner has six top-25 finishes on the season, and his best start of the year was his T2 at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island in April.
You can listen to Varner’s complete Subpar interview below, in which he talks about earning his Tour card, money games with Michael Jordan, becoming a member of the Jordan brand and more.