This all happened years ago, well before I understood the importance of automatic learning.
Here’s the story:
I was playing for my golf team and I was expected to win. Our team was in contention for promotion and this match was do or die.
And in an attempt to ensure the win, our manager decided to play me down the order. Instead of the usual one position, he sent me out at position number 4. The idea being that the #4 spot would provide an “easy” win.
This strategy backfired.
The guy I had to play was no mug and the chances are our opponents had stacked their team too.
I felt more nerves playing in this position instead of my usual spot.
So it’s fair to say that my quality of golf that day was pathetic.
I couldn’t get anything going and the further the match went on, the worse I started to feel.
On 15 I had a fairly simple bunker shot. All I needed to do was get the ball out and onto the green and two-putt and I would win the hole. All sounds nice and easy…
… but it wasn’t.
I was feeling so many nerves that I was beginning to feel sick. And writing about this all these years later it’s kinda embarrassing.
It’s not like this was the US Open – not even close. But it reminds me of how seriously us crazy golfers can take the game. We can get ourselves so worked up we can barely play.
And I was certainly in the midst of some sort of panic attack. I didn’t know how to get the ball outta the bunker but I desperately wanted to do so.
And I think my body reacted to all this indecision and doubt with a dose of nausea.
It was awful.
And it was terrible because I had no strategy to deal with the situation and trying harder just made the situation worse.
I know I ended up winning the match but it was hardly my proudest moment. My opponent lost the plot and practically gifted me the result. He lost it rather than me winning it.
That day did have a silver lining. It was a stake in the ground moment because I never wanted to feel that way again. I wanted to learn to play my best golf when the pressure was on.
Years later I was in a similar situation. But this time it was different. I was a totally different golfer.
Let me set the scene quickly.
I was in the last match.
The day was tied – 3 wins each.
My match was square standing on the 18th.
But I was calm. I was focused on what I could control and I wasn’t worried about all the other possibilities.
I knew I could get the ball into play (and I did).
My shot from 135 yards found the middle of the green.
My putt from 20 feet never looked like missing.
I won my match and the day for my team.
And this performance gave me great satisfaction. I knew I had WON the game and had performed under pressure. There was no real mystery and I had the confidence I could do it again.
By chance, something similar happened the following week and my system responded the same way.
It’s like magic. And when things click, it makes golf the best game in the world.
And to be clear:
It has nothing to do with swing technique or some funny swing theory.
And it’s not about practicing or working harder.
It’s all about using our learning system correctly so it can do all the heavy lifting (like getting the ball onto the green and into the hole) when the pressure is on.
Want to know what it is?
Go for it.
P.S. If you have ever felt like vomiting on the golf course then you definitely need to check this out.