I’ve been very fortunate to be a performance coach for over 20 years, and when you coach athletes, which is what I started with, and then you work into businesses and corporations and organizations, there’s two parts of golf mental game performance. One is have you ever been obsessed with the moment performance? I got to be better now and I get that. But have you ever thought about performance as being a long journey? Well, I’ve been very fortunate to where I have learned from some of my athletes what the journey is like.
I have one story here where I’ve worked with the client since he’s been eight-years-old. His name is Collin Morikawa, and he’s now 21. So we’ve had a long journey together. I remember that eight-year-old coming to me and wanting to get better at golf and he was just so excited. At the time, he just wanted to be a good junior golfer, and then a few years later, he had aspirations of playing in college and what it would take to get to that point. Then when he got in college, it’s aspirations to be a top amateur and then now it’s aspirations to be a professional. But along the way there are many lessons that I had to learn as a coach. It wasn’t all about quick fixes for the present moment, it was about thinking ahead of how I am going to help this athlete next year, five years from now. Think big picture instead of short-term fixes.
How you do that is a couple steps. First off, you have to master your fundamentals. In this day and age, people are obsessed with quick fixes and guess what? If you don’t have fundamentals, you’re always going to try to fix things that are actually relatively simple. Collin’s journey has been all about mastering fundamentals. Now, in sports, that’s a lot about with your grip, your setup, your physical stuff, but guess what? There’s mental mechanics. There’s focus. There’s confidence. There’s commitment. There’s practice. There’s training. That’s part of the fundamentals also. Collin has had that throughout the years. I ask you, as you’ve gone along, what’s slipping away with your performance? It could be basic fundamentals.
The next thing you have to look at in golf mental game training is the next challenge. Again, people are obsessed with the present moment, and things change really quickly. Are you ready for six months from now, one year, five years from now? Some of it, I understand, you can’t always know what’s going to occur. But in the sports world we know that a junior golfer at 16 has to have a different set of skills as they play in college and then play professionally. What are those skills? Well, as a performance coach, I’m already thinking ahead of what that may be. In your business, it could be, wow, I need to develop better presentation skills because I’m going to have to manage more people. Now, it may not be you’re doing that right now, but you may have to do that in the future.
When we train, this is the next key thing, you’re actually training these skills, not just hoping they come magically. With Collin, it’s consistent training year in, year out, round in, round out. Say, “Hey, do we have the fundamentals and are we ready for that next challenge?” Because he’s had a lot of challenges. This past summer back in 2017, he played for the United States Walker Cup, which is a huge event. It’s on Fox and a lot of excitement around it, and he won all four of his matches because we got him prepared for the pressure that was now involved. That other keyword is pressure, isn’t it?
We can have all these great skills, but guess what? We have to show up under pressure and that is why we need to train golf mental game skills. There’s a lot of competition out there. When we look ahead, what competition are you going to be facing? What pressures are you feeling? Do you have strategies to deal with that? Once you start developing the strategies, then, yes, you can take these things on.
To be at your best, you have to have your fundamentals. You have to understand what skillsets are lacking, understand what is the next challenge. Can you handle those things? But then that last piece of it is stress and pressure. It’s usually not an easy ride. There’s ups and downs so working with athletes, now with Collin for over 13 years, there’s some ups, there’s some downs. Can you learn from it?
The last key thing in golf mental game approach is to evaluate honestly where you’re at, where your skills are, where your challenges are and getting help with that. As a coach and a trainer, I become that stopgap for you. I help you now perform better because we can now identify those skills. I’ve learned a lot from Collin. I know Collin has learned a lot from me. long-term development is about having a clear vision, understanding where your skill sets are, knowing there’s challenges, but are you up for those challenges with the stress and pressure you’re going to have? Guess what? A coach like myself can help you with golf mental game routines to help you deal with the pressure to not only just deal with it, but to actually thrive. When you have those skills now, you become a master of the golf mental game.