Drop Your Expectations

A Special Message from Tim:

In today’s blog, it is my pleasure to introduce GGA Performance Mindset Coach Paul Monahan, the newest member of our team:

Paul is a performance mindset coach who helps his clients – elite level leaders, musicians, and athletes – to access the performance energy necessary to lead, perform and play their best.

His passion is helping his clients to realize their potential. And his mission at Graves Golf Academy will be to help you to cultivate a more productive golf mindset – one that allows you to practice and play your best every time you pick up your clubs.

Paul first came to us in 2015 as a student at a 3-day school in Chicago – and quickly distinguished himself as a valuable coaching resource for us after working with one of our master instructors.

His dedication to the Single Plane Swing journey is dark – he has attended numerous 3-day and 5-day schools over the past two years and has even spent time with us here in Edmond, OK. So he knows exactly what you are working on.

Todd and I appreciate the energy and insights Paul brings to our team – and that he will bring to you, our committed students. We are excited to be able to offer his valuable perspective in this space.

Please join me in welcoming Paul to our team.

(Paul Monahan, PCC is a member of the International Coach Federation and is a certified COR.E Performance Dynamics™ Specialist. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Paula and is the proud dad to three young men.)



My guess is that you expect a lot. Don’t you?

You expect your kids to behave, your coworkers to respect you, your customers to pay you and the driver in the lane next to you NOT to cut you off while exiting the highway.

And you also expect that you will master the single plane swing. Sooner than later. (I mean c’mon, Todd, Tim, and the rest of the guys make it look easy!!)

Expectations are a regular part of your everyday experience. It’s part of the way you’ve learned to challenge yourself and others. And it’s even part of your language: “I expect that you will complete the report for me by tomorrow morning.”

It’s completely normal to have expectations. However, they can cause a lot of frustration and unhappiness for you – especially on the golf course – if you are not careful.

As a performance coach, I am constantly tuning into my clients so that I can understand what expectations they may be holding tightly to…and which may be the cause of frustration, fears, or poor performances.

Recently, I attended the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio near where I live.

I went there to observe…To see if I could notice how expectation(s) impact the best players on the PGA Tour.

And it was fascinating.

First, I walked the back nine with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day. (This mega-star grouping started their day at #10.) I saw some great shots – and even better performance management.

For example, on the 18th, Jordan (I guess I’m on a first-name basis!) pulled his tee-shot well into the left rough, about 112 yards from the hole.

Remarkably, he arrived at his ball chatting and bantering with an on-course official and was all smiles. He quickly assessed his shot options and said to his caddy Michael (Greller) “We’re just playing for par here…”

He wasn’t going to try and get too cute. He was going to accept the lie that was offered to him, give it his best effort and move on. It was all matter-of-fact, calm and without a lot of emotion on Jordan’s part.

He hit a wedge a little chunky into the green-side rough…not an ideal result. But he took that in stride as well, explaining to Michael while they walked toward the green that the rough had grabbed a little more of his club head than he had hoped. No problem, though. He seemed confident he could still get up and down.

Sure enough, he chipped to three feet and made the par putt. No big deal.

So, how did expectation show up for Jordan on the 18th hole?

Well, my sense is that his expectations didn’t come. His expectations were not a factor for him, which is exactly the way you want it on the course.

In other words, Jordan didn’t see his experience on the golf course through the lens of his expectations. He wasn’t looking to align his reality with his EXPECTATIONS (or story) about what SHOULD have been happening. Rather, he was merely observing without a lot of judgment. And so his thinking and decision-making were clear and uncluttered. And thus, his ability to perform at his best (hitting the shots the way he intended to) was not limited.

He went on to shoot a three-under par 67 and tied for third place after the first round. Not bad.

Todd (Graves) likes to say: “Stuff happens. The rest is just story.”

What does this mean really? It means that events in your life are NEUTRAL. They just happen. It’s not until you add your story or expectations that you begin to perceive events to be good (or bad).

Your stories and expectations shape your perceptions.

Jordan was anchoring to stories that helped him to stay in a productive frame of mind.

But this is not always easy to do.

Case in point: after leaving the Spieth threesome behind, I caught up with Bryson DeChambeau who was teeing off on #10 and completing his back nine. As a single-plane golfer myself, I was looking forward to watching him play.

(And yes, it meant walking the back nine again…but I was committed to watching him and seeing how expectations might have shown up for him.)

It was a real treat to see such a talented, creative tactician navigate his way around the Firestone course. You can tell that he is a real thinker. And while his swing has distinct differences from the Moe Norman Single Plane Swing that you and I are learning, it was fascinating to see. I hope you get a chance to see him play…he is fun to watch.

And now the tough part: Bryson had a very rough day. And not just mechanically. From what I could tell, he struggled with his expectations the entire back nine…And I believe that it impacted both his decision-making, as well as his capacity to execute the shots he wanted to.

How could I know that? Well, of course, I don’t know for sure…But here are a couple of examples of what I saw:

After pushing his drive on the par 4 # 10, Bryson caught a couple of bad breaks and was in the greenside rough hitting four. From there he chipped to about 8ft and promptly scolded himself: “That was a terrible shot!” (Classic judgment. He expected to hit a better shot.)

Frustrated, he stepped up to his bogey putt and missed. Double Bogey. Ouch. Everyone could see that he was not having fun. (Why not? It appeared to me he was interpreting his reality through the lens of his expectations.)

On the par 3 15th, after a bogey 5 at 14, he pulled his tee ball into the left bunker. He stood on the tee exasperated…struggling to believe that he had just hit the ball there.

And when his next shot – a sand wedge from the bunker – left him 8 feet short of the hole, he put his head in his hands and slumped his shoulders. (The gap between his reality and his expectations was becoming huge for him at that moment.)

He had some great shots over the nine holes. But the ones that did NOT go as planned seemed to create a lot of frustration and pain for him.

That’s what happens – in life, and on the golf course – when you hold tightly to your expectations.

So drop them, play without them. And you will play with a lot less pain. A lot less frustration.

Dropping your expectations (On the golf course – or ANYWHERE!) means that you are freer to experience each moment as it is…Not weighed down by your presuppositions about what the moment SHOULD be. It allows you to experience each moment as it is…and not worse than it is.

So the next time you go to the course to play, drop your expectations, about your score, the number of putts, you will hit, and whether you will birdie the par 5 7th hole!

Just forget about them. And notice how much freer you are to play the game you enjoy so much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *