In nearly every conceivable way, I am better at golf today than I was when I won on the PGA Tour just 16 months ago. I’m a much better swinger of the golf club. I drive the ball more consistently. I’m a better ball-striker. My wedge play is better. I’m more skilled and more comfortable around the greens. I’m more mature. I’m more experienced. Overall, I am simply a better golfer now than I have ever been.
Yet my scores haven’t been good lately. I’ve struggled to post consistently good scores for quite a while. What’s more, my old penchant for getting hot and posting very low rounds hasn’t come around in quite some time.
So, what gives? How can a better golfer shoot higher scores? I have two answers. The first is simple and the second a bit more abstract.
First of all, I need to putt better. I haven’t felt great about the way I have putted for most of the last 14 months. I’ve been inconsistent, had poor pace, struggled inside of five feet, and, most notably, have not made putts in that mid-range distance (10ft-25ft) where I expect to differentiate myself from my competition. Deep down, I’m still very confident in my ability on the greens. I truly believe that putting is a great strength for me and that it will allow me to stand out on the PGA Tour for the next couple of decades. The key is letting that brilliance flow. To do it, I’m going to re-dedicate myself to practice techniques and drills that have worked for me in the past. Also, I’m going to focus on having fun on the greens and stop putting so much pressure on myself.
The second reason my scores haven’t been good is that I haven’t consistently allowed myself to play with freedom in a long time. I have let a prolonged stretch of sub-standard results weigh heavily on me. Each time I tee it up, I do so with a strong desire to “get it right this time.” This causes me to feel anxious and worried, and that is not a recipe for good golf. It is quite the vicious cycle, really. Struggles lead to a stronger and stronger desire to play well, and sometimes that very desire is the biggest challenge. (I told you this was going to be abstract.) It’s tough to nail down a solution to a problem so intangible, but I’m going to do it.
I think it was the late, great Arnold Palmer who once said “golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.” I’ve been focusing lately on the endless complications. I’ve been trying so hard to do everything correctly. I’ve been trying to swing properly and make sure I’m strategizing properly. I’ve obsessed about trying to think the right thoughts at the right time. I’ve tried and tried and tried to get all the little details right. I think I’ve worked myself into a bit of an over-thinking nature and that is causing my tension.
So now, I’m ready to focus on the deceptively simple nature of my sport. At the end of the day, it’s no more complicated than this: lowest score wins. I’m going to go out and try to shoot the lowest score. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It doesn’t matter what other people think. It doesn’t matter what’s on the line or who else is in the competition. Lowest score wins. I’m going to go shoot the lowest score.
Clearly, lots of little things go into producing the lowest score, and I’m not naïve to that fact. But here’s the thing: I’m ready. I’ve been working my butt off to have everything in place. It’s time to go play. It’s time to go shoot the lowest score.
I absolutely love what I do, and I’m really excited to keep doing it and start doing it with freedom more consistently. I’m just outside of Tampa Bay, Florida, this week at one of my favorite courses on Tour for the Valspar Championship. I’m going to have a lot of fun this week!
Thank you for following me and for your support. Keep it here for an update from the tournament.