Sunday, April 12, 2015

Paradigm Shift

It's time for some honesty. I have been particularly honest with myself and my family over the last three weeks, and I have gotten down to some deep-rooted stuff that's happening inside my head. In short, I'm obsessed with making the cut in my golf tournaments, and that is affecting me in a negative way on the course on Thursdays and Fridays. It is not easy for me to admit that, but it is important, and I am ready to start moving in a better direction. 

First, let me back up and explain how I've gotten here. My rookie year on the PGA Tour was hard on me. I missed a lot of cuts. In fact, between 16 PGA Tour events and six Tour events in 2014, I made it to only five weekends. During the season last year, I never recognized myself being obsessed with making or missing the cut, but looking back on it, I can see that as 2014 rolled along, the cut became my subconscious standard of success or failure. Then, as I geared my off-season plan towards a great 2015 season, I subconciously told myself that I wanted to make a lot more cuts this year. Obviously, as you can see from the goals that I published for this year, making cuts is not my actual standard of success, but for some reason, that has subconsiously remained an important measuring stick for me. I have always known that I dislike missing cuts and have always felt some anxiety related to that when I'm near the line on Fridays, but it hasn't been until the past six months that I have truly been obsessed with making cuts. This is where the honesty comes in. Here's how bad it has gotten: I tee off on Thursdays to begin tournaments with an idea of what a "safe" score is for the first 36 holes. I don't do that on purpose, but it happens in my head. At the first sign of adversity during the first two rounds, my mind immediately wonders to the cut regardless of how well I am playing. And here is the real kicker. In an honest talk with Alicia and my sister, Laura, I said this (and actually meant it): the disappointment I feel from missing a cut is stronger than the joy I feel from winning a tournament. Wow. I am obsessed with making the cut. 

Now, the good news. These are thoughts. I control my thoughts. The subconscious ones are a little harder to control, but now that I have acknowledged them, they are no longer subconscious. I have spent a lot of time meditating on this train of thought during this two-week break, and I am ready to change. 

To begin, let me make a couple statements. First of all, I am not Tiger Woods circa 2000. I am probably not going to make all of my cuts. And that is okay. Secondly, my goals, which very thoroughly lay out the things I plan to accomplish each year, mention nothing about making cuts. Clearly, making or missing the cut each week is not my standard of success, so I am ready to re-wire my thinking accordingly. 

I already have a good start to an on-course mental strategy to combat these poor thought patterns. I have been trying to truly understand and commit to the one-shot-at-a-time motto all year, and, in my conscious mind, have done a pretty good job of that. Continuing to emphasize that is definitely important moving forward. Additionally, I am going to begin each tournament week with a new and very specific standard of success. My new standard of success is a three part question. Did I prepare well for the tournament? Did I commit to a smart plan on every shot? Did I approach every shot with the belief that I could win the tournament? Obviously, I am not going to win every week, but I want to be able to answer each of these three questions with a resounding "yes". If I can do that, it will be a successful week. 

That is my tournament mindset. I am ready to get after it. 

This is a very positive blog post already, but let me add some even better news to it. The hard work that I have put in over the past five months has allowed me to have an incredible start to this year despite poor thoughts in my subconscious mind. When I'm home in Knoxville, my good friend Jake Reeves helps me with my golf game a lot, and he likes to tell me I'm tough. I never really know what that means, but I think it means that I am gritty. I am willing to do whatever it takes to achieve my goals. Even though my head has not been in the best spot heading into tournaments for the first couple months of this year, I have competed hard and achieved a lot. It takes some toughness to change thought patterns and think more positively, but I'm going to do it. 

I have had a great week of work here at HOME. I need to have a nice practice session this afternoon to  polish off a Full Practice Schedule this week, and I will get that done. I am ready to play again. I will travel early Monday morning for the Tour's event in Mexico, and I'm ready to compete for another win. 

Thank you for following me and believing in me! More great stuff is coming, so please keep it here to enjoy the ride with me!

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