|When you take a look at the PGA tour players, you see guys who, at times, seem super-human and then on the back nine they seem as mediocre as they come. This is the greatest thing about this sport -- it has agony and ecstasy as well as humility all wrapped into one. It brings out the true personality and heart of all players when they are faced with the pressure of competition.
But the real kicker is that unlike almost all other sports, what happens to you physically and emotionally in every round is self-inflicted. Of course, there are a few exceptions, especially for the tour player, who has the gallery to present additional stress.
However, for the majority of us, we are left to our own devices. This brings me to a very valid point that one of my students brought up when we were discussing David Duval's amazing ability. I mentioned that I thought Duval had a guide map for success that he uses as a template at each course that he plays. We both agreed that he seemed to be in total control of himself and it appeared he controlled the course as well. We decided that he was swinging within his physical limitations, therefore not allowing his emotions to be subject to peaks or troughs. My student then added that he believed Duval had truly separated those things that he could not control from those things that he could. And it was this understanding that put him at ease on the course.
I believe that we can all learn something from Duval. When you are on the course, evaluate the obstacle before you and by keeping in mind your physical limitations, plot a course for success. This at first will seem to be a cowardly approach, but if you use this process to evaluate whether you should go for it or not, you will understand what playing smart feels like. Ask yourself before each shot "Could I make this 7 out of 10 times?" If the answer is yes, then you have the confidence to do it. If the answer is no, then you will feel better that you didn't sacrifice the shot due to lack of planning. If the answer is maybe, then flip a coin and take your chances. If you persist with this, two positive things will occur. You will have a better understanding of your real abilities, and you will feel like the "IceMan" Duval when you succeed.
Good luck in golf and life, and remember...
"Golf is life, the rest is just details"
I write this quote in memory of Brad Swinford.