It is a great game. A unique game. It demands more focus than any other sport. But you only really need that focus for the time it takes to execute a golf swing.
You can’t be thinking about: trees right, kitchen light left on, what you’ll buy with your winnings, etc., when you have 158 yards over water to a front pin. Or you’ll never have a chance.
In the words of Bobby Jones ‘Golf is played on a course five-and-a-half inches long—the space between your ears.’
Focus matters a lot. Focusing with confidence that you have the right club and know exactly what do to with it matters more. Focusing on doing it matters most.
Many of the best pro golfers like to play for money when they practice. Having something on the line gives them incentive to zero in. In a Tuesday practice round before a big tournament, if you’re one of the lucky people to play with Phil Mickelson, you’re playing for money.
Lee Trevino said ‘Pressure is a six-footer worth $500 when you haven’t got a dime.’
There are a lot things to think about when you’re out strutting the links: the weather, the birds, trees, your opponent’s orange shoes, etc. But none of that stuff matters if you want to be a good golfer.
Should you focus with great intensity constantly, you’ll wear yourself out. Enjoy your walk down the fairway to your ball, and then lock in. Your focus, on an EKG reading, should look more like long rolling plains with tall mountains and then more long rolling plains followed by steep mountains.
The trick with golf, and with life, is to care the right amount. If you face your tee shot with the relaxed nature of an old man in a coffee shop watching traffic go by or the obsession of Captain Ahab, the results will be vastly different. But the key is still to find a balance.
It is said, when you grip a club, hold it as if you would a small bird. Don’t kill the bird and don’t let it fly away either.
The same principle applies when you wrap your mind around a shot.