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I so, so, respect the game of golf and the fans of the game of golf!
What is required to stage any golf tournament- let alone major national championships- is much work! I’m here at the USGA Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club as a non-playing LPGA professional golfer this time around. My perspective is much different, more broad now. When I played, I was single-minded and focused and didn’t care much to look around to see what was provided for us. Now, as an older, like I mentioned, a non-playing spectator, the bigger picture of what it takes to stage these premier golf events has me feeling so appreciative and grateful to the many, many unselfish volunteers and fans of this wonderful game.
The volunteers are regular people who leave their homes and their weekly lives, travel, incur all the costs, physically work hard in the hot sun, and then sometimes have to put up with some baloney from some rude spectators to help “stage” a golf championship. There is so much to cover at an event! Committees of volunteers form teams for the many different areas that require attention.
Transportation Committees: Getting players and committee heads to and from the airport and to and from hotels during the week is a full time job. Coordinating areas around the course where they can place cars and vans in the event of bad weather and evacuation is needed is another role of these committee persons.
There are Rules Officials- lots of them! It is not like Wimbledon, (which is being held right now) when there is only a chair referee and a few line judges. Golf events have ACRES of land that have to be “scoured” to see how the rules of golf would be interpreted to this unique scenario. Also, rules officials have to factor in the “outside agencies” that were not supposed to be on the course in normal circumstances. For example; Large areas where “porto pottees” are placed, Huge corporate tents for hospitality out on the fairway, camera towers that are in bounds but prevent players from playing certain shots, large crowds in the way between a player and a green…. …………all these factors have to be thought out before hand and managed and it is not easy.
Food: These golf events have to feed a lot of bellys! There is food that has to be cooked on site for all the fans. Where do the players eat? A large hospitality tent for the players and their families needs to be provided. Huge make shift kitchens are assembled and a staff of employees are supplied and they produce all this on site!
Media: These days, it is a worldwide media frenzy to get the action out and broadcasted to every nook and crany in the world. There is a huge area comprised of portable tents where these journalists have access to power, computers, and wi fi. There they sit and watch TV monitors of the action and write their stories.
Television: The TV Networks have to send in all their camera men- with their expensive cameras and erect towers all over the course to place the cameras at vantage points from where they can best film the action. They used to have to lug miles of cable in the old days.
Parking: Hundreds of surrounding neighbors open their front yards up to park cars for the patrons who want to park close. Committees find local large shopping malls of facilities where they can easily shuttle the hundreds /thousands of fans into and out of the property to observe the action.
Security: Many, Many “fans” that come in to volunteer their time, receive the assignment of handling “security.” That means, standing in the entrance gate to check to see if the incoming spectators have the correct tickets to enter. Believe me, standing at an entrance gate out in the middle of a dusty, hot, parking lot – where they can see no golf action from the players is a great service to this game! And…….there are hundreds of people who do this each week in different cities, just to help out, just to do it for golf!!
It is amazing what all has to happen to have these Cities/ Courses/Clubhouses’ ready to experience the onslaught of people that particular week. Then, in a quick 7 days, it is over and you are left to pick up the pieces to a HUGE MESS- they have parked cars on your course and torn up the turf, thousands of people have stomped down the fairways and damaged your grass that will take weeks to grow back, huge holes in the ground where they dug holes to safely erect signs, or temporary tents, or camera towers……..You are just left with a mess when the last put on the 18th green is holed.
Behind, every great champion of the golf event is a GREAT COMMITTEE OF VOLUNTEERS AND FANS THAT MAKE THE EVENT EVEN POSSIBLE!
p.s. Photos below of rules officials being briefed VERY early in the morning before the day begins, a lone camera woman doing her daily thing of covering a player (golfers walk fast- cameramen can’t stay in the arena and just sit and shoot all day. You have to strap it on you and carry it with you! A rules official showing other officials what the official ruling would be in that area of the course. Graciously, a golfer signing autographs during the practice round to all the local young fans. (Alright ladies!! The LPGA tour is fantastic at doing this for the fans! Makes me proud!) Lastly, a whole area of your property has to be supplied to create a great practice facility for the players. Nothing to it!
We don’t perform our best because we’re afraid of what others will think of us??
That is SO true! OK, next question; How do you practice this? If this statement is true- how do we get better at not caring what others think about us????
That’s the question this morning – the morning Jordan Spieth is going out on his 4th round to try to win the Masters! His ability to capture this title is very much about his ability to let go and not worry that the whole world is watching and will then talk about and pick apart every aspect of his game, his swing, his putting stroke, his demeanor, his family, his physical body, his personal life……….. that is what happens when you put yourself out there!
So, here is the deal- here is how you practice this; you short circuit the process. Just Know you are going to look badly at times- you are going to fail at times, choke at times, and do stupid things in front of the world. You got to get this.
Now,can you accept this, know this, expect this……and then forgive yourself, laugh at yourself, know it is not everything ………..and now, let go and go play without worrying about what others will say about you.
That needs to be a big part of your practicing. We do that in our Mental Mastery Program. Our next one is May 8th and the following one is May 30th-31st. Call for any details.
High School Matches
Here is what I see too often…….…. Golfers give up too early in the round because they think they are “out of it” and their score won’t count for the team.
This concept is something that is so important and without even needing to give someone a “Lesson”- I know they will do better if they just decide before they go out there to “take it easy and don’t get upset if things don’t go just great.”
That is it!!!
I don’t know how many rounds I see get way worse- Not because of ball striking at all- simply by the golfer blowing a fuse in their own head and being self destructive throughout the latter half of their round.
Patience and acceptance is the suggestion here! Hang in there and try not to let things get you too upset. You don’t have to be Mr. Happy out there but you also don’t have to be the “Scrooge”, or “Poor me”, or “Life sucks” out there either! This is the opposite of perfectionism. I think perfectionism is a bad idea! Being the tough guy or the “deserving” player is what a lot of high school golfers think is the right way to be out there. Really, it is not about who is most deserving to play well. Often, it goes to the girl or guy who can simply hang in there with a good disposition that allows them to FINISH THE ROUND. A lot of golfers simply shoot themselves in the foot or put themselves behind the eight ball, or dig themselves a hole they simply can’t claw their way out of. Play your game- let go of expectations, and just play to the end. This does require us to “ABSORB” a lot of “less than spectacular shots” – And that I know is not easy! But that is the thing that is needed during the round. You can practice later, after the round, but while you are out there; hang in there, diffuse your anger, and hit and reset the computer as often as you need. An example would be to make it your next priority to just play the next 5 holes the best you can regardless if you just played the first 13 holes terribly! That is important. The worst feeling is when you get in and you realize your team would have won if your score was just 2 strokes less?? Additionally, the truth is, you know in your heart, there was no way in God’s green earth you know you could have played any worse than you did today and the reason for the high score is simply- you thought you were way worse than you should be so you “bagged” it by acting too cool and careless, too tough, rebellious, or, the opposite, way to timid and over analytical and over careful. Just hang and learn to accept some less than perfect shots and holes and keep going!
Golf builds bridges! I’ve been talking about it, and observing and experiencing it personally for years.
Recently, my son started playing golf for his high school team and he started asking me to play with him! I have met most of his friends and to have time with your 15- year old son’s buddies – undisturbed time with no phones, no distractions, is very unusual and has been very welcomed and really enjoyable! I have really valued these experiences and it has allowed me to hear about my son from his teammates point of views. It gives me more information on how my son is creating himself in the world. I don’t know about you, but as a parent, any information I can get on what my son is doing, thinking, exploring… I am interested in hearing about.
As far as my mother, the bridge I have into her world is also so appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed! I have my common way of relating to my mom and when I get to see how others relate to my mom and how they see her strengths- again, it gives me a way broader vision of my mom and I so appreciate that injection of their point of view and my own potential attitude adjustment that I could take toward my mom to make our relationship continue to stay great. People we love often get pigeon holed into what we say is true about them and it does take that outside help at times to allow us to see their much broader roles and talents in life.
Of course I speak about “business golf” and how to use golf as a tool for creating specific business relationships. I can go on at length how this is beneficial to creating success in your business. But, what I haven’t talked about as much is how golf has also built a bridge for me to be able to experience relaxing, amusing, relationships with people I have never met and would have never met if it wasn’t for golf; people from completely different circles in life. My world gets enhanced. I get birds eye views into different existences- and I really value that! Where we choose to take those relationships varies from person to person but the initial glimpse is something I really like.
Of course the people with whom I’m already a friend, when we golf, we can really banter and have some fun! Golf is a great social game! This past weekend when four of us ladies met for a round after work at 3pm, (we cut out early!) I was again reminded of what golf brings to my life when we were on the porch eating dinner together until almost 10pm. As the round progressed, we were all having so much fun, we all decided to make the necessary phone calls to organize our lives so we could have post round discussions and dinner and we all left feeling happy and all was well in the world for another day!
In my last blog, I talked about the benefit of being in a northern city like Pittsburgh. How can that be you say? Well, one thing you could get by being “away from the game” is perspective! When you live in Florida, there is a strong probability that you don’t see but only one way to be a golfer. Most golfers think if you don’t practice and play every day, you won’t get to be where you want to be!
Truly, that is not how it is. The old saying of quality over quantity is what I’m pointing to here. Do you play with a high level of awareness? Do you even know how to get to being in that state?” Do you think yoga could be a way to help you learn awareness – can you practice yoga in Pittsburgh? When I was studying to become a yoga instructor, my yoga teacher told me that yoga is “practicing with psychological penetration; not a physical pushing.”
While my driveway today is covered with almost 6 inches and I”m stuck inside, I am relaxing, taking pleasure in doing other hobbies I have in my life. The relaxation allows me some time to reflect and bring some clarity as to what I will attend to when I go back to the golf course. Today in Pittsburgh, I practice being able to come in and out of my focused attention through other hobbies and practices I have – like yoga. It sounds counter productive but getting away and resting and seeing how your mind works in other sports and hobbies gives you a great perspective on how you play golf.
If you are in Florida everyday playing and doing the same thing, you could miss some great lessons that distance from your game and variety have to teach you. It takes some energy to pay attention! Take some time to rest and get out of that hot sun and hydrate! Come up here to Pittsburgh and we’ll teach you how to stay energized and have perspective and be focused on the upside of the things in your life!
Last month, I returned home to Pittsburgh from Phoenix, where I had spent a week at my year- end golf conferences. Some of the brightest coaches, swing doctors, club manufacturers and tech support people in our industry, were all there to educate us golf coaches and bring us up to speed on best practices of our industry. It was exciting and stimulating to rub shoulders with golf coaches from all over the world who are willing to share how they had had success working with their players. From the likes of Jordan Spieth’s Coach, LPGA rookie Guila Molinaro’s coaches, Sean O’Hair’s coach, to the coaches of Mrs. Smith at the club or little junior member Johnny who is 7 years old! I am busting at the seems on how I want to add or take away some of my practices that may make my coaching more effective for my students!
What I want to say is that over the years, I have had some sadness or loss of energy upon returning home to Pittsburgh from some of these trips. These trips always seem to be in the winter! It seems to me that those areas have better practice facilities, better weather, and more buzz in the air with all the swing gurus congregated in the same area! It was kind of a let down and I wished I would have lived in Phoenix or Florida so I could practice more, get more instruction from the #1 coaches in the country (the ones in the magazines), hit more balls on the best facilities in the world, use the bells and whistles of the industry like trackman and 3 – D technology that every range out there seems to have.
Then, I learned something at the conference that really helped me! I kind of already knew it but it was good to hear it articulated. What I learned helps me to realize what really matters and helps me to realize why I was able to play well on tour and why I love living where I live.
What I remembered again out in phoenix is that Golf is a great game and requires a wide set of skills– not just having a great swing and hitting a lot of balls in good weather!!!
Concentration, letting go of disappointments, awareness of ourselves, our physical condition, ability to define what we’re going to do and then doing that, having motivation about our games and knowing why we play, being able to trust ourselves on the course, and learning how to practice trusting in our practice sessions, ……………All of these skills are as important as how well you hit the ball! A lot of these skills can be learned on the golf course in great weather or indoors in a golf academy or even just in regular life! (For example- patience ??) You don’t need to play 36 holes a day in the perfect sunshine getting lessons from the supposed best golf teacher who uses all the latest scientific gadgets to get you good at playing golf! Did you hear that?
I know there is a temptation out there, and sure it is nice to hang out with all the pretty people in the pretty weather, but the bottom line is- there are other factors that are in play here and those can be learned and mastered anywhere.
I played 14 years on tour without any Trackman, or Flightscope, or K- Vests, High Speed Video, Sam Put Labs…………and I love Florida, but I also love Pittsburgh! I didn’t think I was that great at concentration or disappointments or energy management- I didn’t even think about it before when I was on tour! How nice it is that I can now appreciate that I was good at those skills and that is why I did continue improving up and onto the tour. And, isn’t it great that I can now bring more of that education and awareness to my student’s games and help them develop all these areas?
What I’m excited about is that you can bet that you’ll be able to count on me to absolutely have you understand what you need in your game to score better and to enjoy it more and how to get it done effectively and efficiently- regardless if we’re in cloudy Pittsburgh in November or sunny Phoenix in November. The interesting part is that there are even some advantages to being in Pittsburgh! I’ll tell you more of those next time!