Ribeiro - Stephenson Photo by Monster. By John Andrisani USGTF Level III Member and Contributing Writer, Vero Beach, Florida “Ive been playing golf for 50 years, and what never ceases to amaze me is how, from time to time, I’ll meet a player who, though not great by any sense of the imagination in any shotmaking category – from driving to putting – manages to bring home the trophy in both the club’s match play and medal play yearly championships. These days, when I watch this type of golfer in action, I’m reminded most of Padraig Harrington. Not one department of Padraig’s game seems to stand out. For this reason, until his more recent major victories at the British Open and PGA, he was one of those players who never really got mentioned on the Golf Channel prior to a major when so-called experts always try to predict a winner. Having said that, Padraig continues to win on both sides of the Atlantic, and with his 2008 major victories, proved that there is more to winning than hitting the ball powerfully. Gary Player played a similar game to Padraig. Both hit solid, accurate drives, good iron shots, share excellent short games, and putt well a lot of the time, but again, neither player possesses exceptional Tigerlike shotmaking qualities that stand out. So, what is it about Player, Harrington, and that fellow player at your local club that brings him into the winner’s circle time after time? The success of these players has to do with qualities outside the shotmaking realm, namely possessing the four C’s: Confidence, Concentration, Courage, and Common Sense. So, let me review these qualities common to major championship winners and taught to me originally by Seve Ballesteros, who, though anything but an accurate driver of the ball, still won major championships. My suggestion is that you pass the four C’s you are about to learn onto your students, who should be looking for new ways to beat the course and emerge a winner without having to do anything special, shotmaking wise. CONFIDENCE The best dictionary definition of confidence is “full trust.” Applied to golf, that means essentially this: When a player thinks he’s going to hit a good shot, he usually will, provided, of course, that his positive attitude is realistically based on a fundamentally good swing and at least a fairly good shotmaking ability developed through regular and rigorous practice. The harder you prepare for anything, the higher your level of confidence about it, thus, the less pressure you feel and the better you perform. Convince your student to relate this work ethic to practicing golf, as all fine players do, and that student will definitely begin to play the game with a more positive attitude about hitting the shots it takes to be a winner. CONCENTRATION If you determine that your student tends to joke around too much or talk too much in between shots, and you notice that these lapses hinder his or her powers of concentration, encourage them to be less like Lee Trevino and Fuzzy Zoeller and more like Gary Player and Padraig Harrington. In short, give them tips to get them into the game and enable them to stay in the game. For example, encourage the student to get into the game by concentrating hard on picking out a target and imagining a good shot hitting that target before swinging. Encourage them to stay in the game by imagining circular targets in the fairway on tee shots and on the greens on approach shots and to count how many times during a round they can hit the bull’s eye. COURAGE Many golfers, pro and amateur players alike, fail to live up to their full potential because they never learn the secrets of developing a courageous on-course attitude. These are the immature types who throw clubs, continually cuss themselves out, sulk, or even walk off the course after one too many bad bounces or bad holes. Their problem is that they expect perfection, whereas the complete and intelligent – and courageous – golfer respects the game’s unpredictability, takes it in stride, and gets on with the job as best as he possibly can. Even when he’s having an absolutely awful day, this player still gives every shot 100 percent concentration. His final score is his absolute best effort for that day, and biting the bullet like this hardens him for future rounds. Courage, then, is not inherited, but developed through a combination of experience, sheer grit, and determination. Jack Nicklaus was not a great all-around player. In fact, he admits to being just a fair wedge and bunker player. Yet, his courage brought him to the winner’s circle a record 18 times in major championships. COMMON SENSE I’m forever amazed by the foolish chances amateur golfers take during a round of 18 holes. The typical club-level golfer would never dream of driving a car 120 miles per hour down a regular road or gambling a life savings on a flip of a card. However, on the golf course, many amateur golfers seem unable to retain even an ounce of common sense. Playing with common sense involves making the decision to play aggressively or safely, based on a realistic appraisal of one’s capabilities. And in doing that, the chief consideration should be the reward of pulling off the shot relative to the cost of missing it. What this requires above all else is discipline, which just might be the most important word in the entire golfing lexicon.
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