Saturday, August 2, 2008

Great vs. Want to Be Great

Golf is a crazy game! A 53 year old business man and entrepreneur, after playing a couple of golf tournaments and working in an occasional practice session, leads the biggest golf tournament in the world at the end of the 3rd round? Sure Greg Norman was a former # 1 player in the world and is an extremely talented player, but to play as little as he has over the past 5 years and all of a sudden compete with the best players in the world is a remarkable accomplishment. Yet even though his physical talents may have slipped from a lack of use, he still found a way to stay in the tournament and play with golfers at the peak of their skills and in the end beat all but two of them.

Greg’s great performance reminds me of a number of conversations over the years about what separates the great from the “want to be great”. I have always felt that the differences are an explanation as to why those of us who “want to be great” never quite get there. We use these examples at the Academy every day:

The great players use what they have while the “not so great” are always trying to fix what they have. Arnold Palmer always used his warm up session to decide how the ball was going to curve on that particular day and then used that shot shape for the rest of the day. The “not so great” typically spends the entire round trying to fix or change the slice or hook they found on the practice tee.
The great player understands that it is distance control not distance potential that makes the difference.
The great player understands that score is more important than technique. Where I hit it and how many times is more important than how.
The great player worries about tempo and control. The “not so great” about speed and power.
The great player realizes the shorter the shot the greater the importance. The “not so great” spends so much time worried about length that they neglect the shots that most influence the score.
The great player never lets a missed shot influence the next. The “not so great’ is always trying to fix the previous miss with the next shot. “If the last ball went left then I aim more right on the next one.”

Regardless of skill level none of these examples require anything but a change in attitude to accomplish. The moral of the story is that the best way to shoot lower scores is to focus on what it takes to shoot lower scores. Get help where you need it and look to minimize your mistakes rather than conquer them.

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