By: Charles W. Boatright
Congratulations to Sergio Garcia for winning the 2017 Masters; but, more importantly, for confronting his mental demons that have plagued him for years. Most people have to deal with their demons on a small stage, Sergio, on the other hand, had to deal with his on the world stage. With the help of family and friends, Sergio was able to address his demons and deal with them in a successful manner.
In one way or form, we all have to deal with our personal demons that cause us to do the very thing we wish not to do, and avoid the things we need to do. The only method to successfully deal with your demons is perseverance and focus committed to a routine and a pathway that includes support. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to keep walking toward the other end and never give up or in, be a grinder and get involved in a sport and exercise on a regular basis. That which benefits the heart and body; benefits the mind as well.
Sergio’s 2007 British Open Played at Carnoustie, Scotland-
Sergio Garcia has finally conquered his mental demons by winning the 2017 Masters. The demons Sergio was referring to was his paralysis analysis that control his mind with self-doubts. This was in the form of distractions and questioning his objectives. Mental distractions take on many forms, such as lack of mental focus, or worse, focusing on too many things at one time. This includes focusing on things that are out of one’s control, like playing conditions and influences of other players. These are the biggest obstacles that the athlete has to overcome, both on an amateur and a professional level.
During Sergio’s post-game press conference on Sunday night at the Masters, 09Apr2017, Sergio alluded to his past issues that he experienced by staying focused on just a few objectives that were in his control. All too often, Sergio said, he focused on issues that he had little or no control over, instead of a laser-like focus on the main objective that he could control in his game.
Focusing only on objectives that he could control was what made Jack Nicklaus an eighteen-time major champion winner.
During the Golf Channel documentary entitled “JACK,” fellow players stated that no one had a better focus or was prepared better than Jack Nicklaus. Even Jack himself in the documentary stated that his main goal was to prepare better than his fellow players and focus on issues he could control.
The job of the athlete is not to let those things that they can’t control dominate their mind. This causes the athlete to over-think. The best way to handle the other issue is to acknowledge those issues and go on and make adjustments. The main objective of the athlete is to just stay focused on what one can do, stay in the moment, play toward your strengths, and avoid weakness. The athlete can’t control what the conditions on the course are, or what the other players are doing. And even more importantly, the athlete can’t adopt the other players’ playing style, because that style is tailored to their strengths and weaknesses, not yours.
The athlete must maintain three simple elements of staying focused (stay on the objective), relaxed (get in touch with IT, the subconscious mind, THE ZONE), and being confident (eliminate the noise of distractions). These are the three Rings of Performance the athlete must have. These three Rings of Performance allow the athlete to pull the steel curtain around themselves and play In The Zone and in the moment. This is what separates good players from great players. The athlete is actually not aware of their surroundings or the performance of others.
When it comes down to the athlete’s performance, there are very few objectives they can really focus on or control, instead of experiencing what is called paralysis analysis. Your conscious mind has one responsibility, and execution of the golfer’s swing is not one of these responsibilities. The conscious mind must stay out of the way of the subconscious mind.
You want the conscious mind to act as a forward observer at the target area and get out of the way of the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is where the athlete’s muscle memory, motor-skills, and routine are stored. The subconscious mind is the only component that has the capability of controlling the 320 pairs of muscles.
The 2007 British Open
There was one past situation that came to my mind while Sergio was talking about dealing with too many issues at the 2017 Masters’ press conference. This was at the 2007 British Open:
The 2007 British Open was played at Carnoustie, Scotland. Sergio lead after three days by six strokes over Padraig Harrington who won the tournament in a playoff with Sergio.
Sergio Garcia managed to drop his lead on the final day by two strokes behind Padraig Harrington. Harrington tied Sergio on the 18th hole when he went with driver and drove it across the bridge over the first berm (what we would call a creek or ditch). Padraig’s ball rolled safely across the bridge and landed about two feet from the end of the bridge.
On Harrington’s third shot with a 5-iron, he hit his ball into the second berm, crossing the fairway. Harrington finished the 18th hole with a double-bogey, making him even with Garcia.
The 2007 British Open was more than a tale of two players, but of tale of two philosophies. These fundamentals are key to an athlete’s success-
- Avoid distraction; stay focused on what you can control- your preparation, concentration, perseverance, and endurance.
- Stay in the moment; forget what has occurred, whether good or bad, just focus on the objective ahead and what you can do now.
Keeping your Self-control and Maintain your Focus–
Garcia revealed at the 2007 Open post-game conference that he was dealing and playing with more than just the pressures in the game. He was dealing with his nemesis of distractions and lack of focus.
Keeping the objective as your focus is essential in golf in order to retain game management. Focusing on the task at hand will mitigate and eliminate the distractions. Block out all other issues not connected to your objective. Don’t surrender your self-control and focus to the field or to the distractions.
The distraction for Sergio was letting the past determine his future. There’s no substitute for focus, preparation, self-control, concentration, patience, perseverance, and endurance. These are your assets as an athlete.
The very worst thing that an athlete can do during their competition is to start thinking and abandon their game and start playing aggressively. The athlete must stay within their skill set. The athlete must learn and accept to play what the course gives them, in the golfer’s case, stay on offense. The golf course is playing defense. The players convince themselves to start playing defensively, through intimidation, that they need to do more and play beyond the situation and their abilities. They give up conservative opportunities for par, and instead go for progressive opportunities for birdies. As the results they end up making bogey or worse.
Managing the Options–
Padraig Harrington, during the playoff in the 2007 British Open, managed to stay in the moment and forget the double-bogey that he made on the 18th hole during regulation play. Sergio Garcia, on the other hand, was still replaying in his head the last part of his fourth round of what he should have or could have done. Padraig Harrington made the adjustments and rebooted his mind, essentially erasing how he played made double-bogey on 18.
Never too Late to Learn and Improve your Game
There was another playoff that Sergio played in that showed how he was capable of focusing on the objective. Sergio Garcia ended regulation play in the 2008 TPC Sawgrass (Player’s Championship) Tournament tied with Paul Goydos. The playoff hole was the famous 17th hole island green. Paul Goydos hit away from the hole, while Sergio Garcia hit near the hole and made his Par to win the tournament with newly-found confidence.
Some sports commentators call this ‘Grinding it out’ on the course. Preparation, self-control, perseverance, and focus provide you with options. Lack of self-control and not preparing forfeit your options. The best method of keeping your self-control and focus is to prepare and stay with what you can do now.
To learn more about this self coaching-forum of the mental edge of golf and how to improve your golf game, purchase your copy of The ESPY Golf Swing Coach from the links below, or visit your local bookstore:
Please take advantage of my SR-925 Diet Program, where I lost 6 inches in my waist in 3- months (FREE of CHARGE) with the CASPER Workout Program, detailed in Section 20 of my book:
Please include an exercise routine in your weekly schedule.
Also, learning The ESPY Golf Swing Coach process is an excellent way to develop Rhythm without experiencing the Blues: