Putters Aren’t Balky. People Are.

GGA Mental Game Coach.

Brooks Koepka proved to be an incredible champion yesterday…defending a US Open title successfully for the first time in 29 years. It was a very special performance for sure!

And among the great performers on the very difficult Shinnecock Hills layout, (Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger, Tommy Fleetwood) there were also those who underperformed over the course of the championship. (Ricky Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith, Phil Mickelson …and perhaps even Dustin Johnson on Sunday.)

In fact, one headline that caught my attention today was this:

Screen Shot from the Golf Channel Website.


So it was the putter’s fault? His putter didn’t cooperate?

I say nay. (…to quote the late comedian John Pinette) Putters aren’t balky. People are.

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what went wrong for DJ…but it just seemed like he was not very confident on the greens on Sunday …and the stats show it. He took 26 putts in his first round, and 38 in his final round.

He has an incredible record in the US Open. (T4 or better in four of the past five years.) you got to love watching him play! And I can’t know for sure what was happening yesterday for Dustin…but if I was working with him, I would want to know more about how he was feeling on the greens.

Why? Our feelings are typically a product of our thoughts…and if I’m caught up in “stinking thinking”, then it is tough for me to be confident and play my best.

For example, when we operate from a scarcity perspective, it is easy to FEEL the pressure of the moment….to become stiff and protective. But when we operate from an abundance perspective, we are not limited by our thinking. We are much freer to play the game of golf with more confidence …and (all things being equal) with better results.

As a performance coach, I am interested in helping my clients to create the conditions so that the challenges they face don’t limit them from their highest potential at any moment.

From my vantage point, it seems as though many of this week’s participants may have succumbed to the narrative inside their head that is NOT supportive of great play. This narrative is often referred to as the EGO…a well-known part of our brain that is designed primarily to keep us safe…but which can alter our performance capabilities in significant ways if we are not careful?

I have learned to notice when my own EGO starts speaking loudly in reaction to my experiences. In fact, I call mine Carl. (And I encourage my clients to name their Ego as well.)

(That voice that says “You better not miss this one” when you are lining up that five-footer on the 18thgreen to beat your buddy is your Ego.)

One of the best ways of dealing with a challenge on the course (or anywhere) is to be able to tune in to the way in which your Ego is speaking to you. When you can do this, you will recognize quickly that your inner voice associated with your EGO is much more interested in what you might lose than in what you might gain. It is essentially operating from a scarcity perspective, rather than an abundance perspective.

And when you can tune-in quickly enough, you can quiet the Ego and move to more productive narratives, reaffirming to yourself that:

You HAVE enough.

You ARE enough.

You WON’T die if you miss this putt…etc.

You will remember that you need not worry about what happens on this hole. That it is THIS shot that counts. And you will begin to play a game where the only thing that matters is NOW. This moment. Right here. Right now.

You will also make space for your playful instincts to thrive. You will be more at ease than ever…and you will be more resilient – abler to tap into the BEST of your skills that day.

The next time you play, experiment with tuning in to your inner voice: The Ego that is focused on loss, losing, lack, scarcity. Name him (or her), and see if you can begin to just acknowledge him (or her), and yet move on to channel abundance, joy, creativity, innovation, and accomplishment.

I think you will find that you will cultivate a much more pleasant experience for yourself on the course…and your performance will improve as well.

Remember. Putters aren’t balky. People are.

Paul Monahan, PCC is a Peak-Performance coach, member of the International Coach Federation and 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. He works with elite-level performers and leaders, helping them to expand their awareness so that they perform at their best more consistently.

He can be reached at paul@paulmonahancoaching.com

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan

Paul Monahan is an International Coach Federation (ICF) - credentialed coach working in the arena of human potential. Paul’s clients are leaders, executives, athletes and musicians who are serious about transforming how they perform in critical moments. His experiences in leadership and development over a highly-successful 25-year corporate career have created powerful context and understanding for the leaders and executives he coaches. Additionally, his passions and experiences in sports and music have uniquely positioned Paul to profoundly impact his clients in those areas as well.

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