I received a comment from my last post that I thought was worthy of a new posting. Chris Brauner wrote:
“Personally what motivates me is falling short of what I believe to be my potential, my one shot that comes and goes very quickly like everything in life.”
You seem to have been able to play a pretty full schedule for years now–has your motivation remained high during all of that time or has it at times been challenged by the demands of life–work, family, health, etc.? Has competitive golf stayed “fresh” for you (if so how have you kept it fresh) or have you gone through periods of burnout (if so how did you deal with it)?
These are great questions, and relate to everything we do in life. How do we keep relationships fresh? How do we stay motivated in our work and in our lives. First of all golf is a sport/hobby and is meant to be fun. The most common question I’ve been asked over 30 years is “why don’t you go pro” well going pro is not as easy as one might think, and playing for dough makes golf a job, not a hobby. There is a significant difference between the two, especially if your on the road missing cuts and playing poorly while watching your status on tour plummet. This would completely change the love I have for competitive golf, as I play for the love of the game, the competition, and mostly for the great people I’ve met through the game.
But for some reason everyone thinks I play golf everyday, which is not even close to being accurate. I play on average 1 time every two weeks, which doesn’t take in consideration my tournament rounds were I play most of my rounds. The key to good golf and keeping it fresh is in the preparation that goes into playing at a high level. I spend my time in the gym, chipping, putting, stretching and getting mentally prepared. If you think just playing a round of golf is helping your game, I believe you may be having perhaps more fun than the rigors of practice, but without the combination of taking what you practice and testing it on the course in both competitive and none competitive situations. This will maximize your available time and provide the best results.
I do take breaks, and know the importance of being well rested before an important event. Prior to this years Cal State amateur at Olympic I’ll be well rested, while others will be hitting 300 balls a day and play a late Sunday afternoon practice round. This may work if your 18 years old, but my experience is your NOT going to find your game the day before an event, so your actually better off resting and play each shot of the course in your head, visualize each shot, the trajectory and flight – THIS WORKS!!!
I marvel at the range players that just hit shots at targets and sometimes even without targets, all full shots. While on the course you’ll have so many different types of shots that you never practice on the range, so how would you ever know to hit that shot. When I’m playing Olympic Lake, I know the shot off #1 is a slider around the corner, so what do you think I just perfected on the range? On #4 I’ll have a slight drawing 3 metal as well as on #16, so I’ll visualize these shots and hit them on the range.
What keeps the game fresh for me is the never ending pursuit of excellence in the game, you’ll never have a perfect golf game, but working on the game and the approach to tournament golf is what keeps it fun and exciting. I LOVE playing against the kids, and have recently won several events against some of the best younger players in Northern California. To just name a few of them- Monterey City (about 80 college players) Santa Clara County, Oakland City, California Mid Amateur, Amateur Golf.com Wine County Amateur. And I love the best ball tournaments where I’m defending champion with Darryl Donovan in the NCGA Four Ball and the NCGA Masters Four Ball and with Paul Balatti the last three years in the Whisper Rock National Invitational (it helps to get really good partners which takes the heat off) All of these events I prepare a game plan of how I’m going to play these courses, with visualization of shots.
I’ve enjoyed watching some of the most talented juniors come up the ranks through the California colleges and junior Programs, and I see one common denominator with the ones that make it in golf. #1 they have no weaknesses in their games#2 they make sacrifices to be the best they can be #3 they have immense talent #4 the intangibles like injury and fitness, if you aren’t taking care of your body, your body will let you down. #5 They are not AFRAID to WIN AND GO LOW
I think #5 is actually the biggest hurdle as very few players can shoot 64,65 or even 63. Look at the winning scores these pros are shooting now, if you are not going low, you will not win!
I’ve had my ups and downs in my amateur career, with a fluke accident in the gym resulting in a bad tear in my L4/L5, loving to compete so much I was willing to have 12 epidurals over the past 6 years to stay competitive. But with fitness, stretching and Pilates I believe my back is better than ever.
If you love the game and love to compete, you need a game plan otherwise you’ll just go through the motions. You need a practice regimen and schedule and you need to invest the time. Without it results will be inconsistent and frustrating.
I’ve been fortunate to have won over 125 amateur events over the past 30 years, some National events like the Crump Cup all the way to club Championships at Boundry Oaks, Blackhawk CC and the Olympic Club. It doesn’t matter how big the event, I’ve always had the butterflies in all of them, which means I care and am fired up!
SO TODAY start by thinking about the game in a different way, how you can look objectively at your weaknesses and have a plan to working them into strengths in your game. This is actually the fun part seeing your weaknesses become stronger and stronger parts of your game. Don’t over-practice before big events, rest with mental preparation will be more valuable.
Keep the comments coming and don’t forget to check out another great golf blog at www.globalgolfpost.com they do a great job weekly!!
Stay tuned for LOCAL US OPEN QUALIFIER AND PREVIEW OF THE OLYMPIC LAKE FOR THE CALIFORNIA STATE AMATEUR