Saturday, September 19, 2015

Motivated and Ready To Be Better Mentally

This one is tough to swallow. I have had a great week of work, and I felt very prepared to play well on a course I really like, but I posted scores of 70 and 74 to miss the cut by one. I let myself down by reverting to some old, poor thought patterns and that is what makes this particularly painful. This week's result, and the shortcomings that let to it, have prompted me to do some serious introspection. I am still really disappointed, and this one really hurts, but I will be stronger mentally and better than ever because of this week. 

Here is the truth: I still face severe cut anxiety. I have focused strongly on my mental game, and I really feel like my routine is healthy and powerful, but I still let anxiety from the cut line dictate my mood on the golf course sometimes. This week, I played some of the best golf of my life in the middle of my opening round. I had battled back from a rough start over the first four holes and was four-under-par through 16 holes. I didn't do anything terribly wrong, but I bogeyed the last two holes of that first round. Given the great golf that I was playing, it should have been no big deal, but after that poor finish, I immediately allowed thoughts of the cut line to dominate my mind. When I teed it up on Friday, I still felt prepared physically to play well, but I definitely had anxiety in my thoughts. I was executing my shots very well, but a misjudged lie on the third hole led to a bogey, and that brought the anxiety to the front of my mind. I stayed committed to my pre-shot routine and still hit a lot of quality shots, but rather than playing with confidence, freedom, and trust, I played with fear for the rest of the day. That fear caused me to feel uncomfortable over some big shots and kept me from delivering the great skills I have worked so hard to develop. It is very hard for me to admit these mental shortcomings, but from this place of honesty with myself, I can make a great plan and move forward to be better. 

Here is another truth: The success of my golf career is never dependent upon any single week. I have long held the belief that steady improvement will ultimately lead to the achievement of all of my goals in golf. Therefore, the thing that I fear the most -- a missed cut -- is really nothing to fear at all. Neither my unspoken goal of steady improvement nor any of my written goals are impacted by a missed cut. But, I have allowed a missed cut to symbolize failure to me. In reality, the only way I can fail at golf is if I stop improving. My success will be defined by a long-term process of continuing to hone my mental and physical skills. I know that I have a great plan in place for long-term success, and I am not going to let the cut line control me. 

Whether I am near the cut line on the first two days, coming down the stretch with a chance to win, or battling to climb from the middle of the pack, I want to approach my golf shots with the optimism that comes from knowing I am on a successful path. To help me in times when negativity and fear are trying to overtake my thoughts, I am going to keep a reminder in my golf bag of all the reasons I can hit every shot with confidence, freedom, and trust. I have worked way too hard and am on way too good of a trajectory to let fear of anything control my thoughts on the golf course. 

I am still disappointed with what happened this week. I think I might have needed this reminder, though. I still believe in my plan. I am going to continue to prepare well and to play with confidence, freedom, and trust. The only difference is that I will have a reminder in my golf bag to make sure that I do so even when things seem difficult. I still believe that all of my goals are attainable, and I know that I will continue to improve. A missed cut is a set back. It does stink. But, it is not something to be afraid of, and it will not derail my progress. 

I believe that great things are in store in the very near future, and I know that great things are in store in the long-term. Thank you very much for believing in me and supporting my career. Please keep it here to enjoy the progress with me. 

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