Grip Check Up
by Chris Spalla, Lead Instructor, Brad Brewer Golf Academy at Rosen Shingle Creek, Orlando, Florida
Your introduction to golf began with the grip. Yet this is the most overlooked item when it comes to maintaining golf equipment.
Grips need to be changed due to their age or due to lack of maintaining them.
Clean, tacky grips are key because it affects how you are going to swing your golf club. Grips that are slick or too worn, causes a too tight grip.
There isn’t an expiration date for grips. However, if you cannot remember the last time you changed your grips, chances are very good, now is the time. Even grips that haven’t seen very much play are affected by the elements. Grips that have cracks, wear spots – especially where the thumbs make contact with the grip, faded or bare spots, smooth surfaces or complete loss of tack are all indicators new grips are the go.
Grips that appear a bit shiny but do not exhibit signs of being worn out will benefit from a good cleaning. Take a clean scrub brush, just a bit of dish soap along with warm water and scrub down the grips. Rinse immediately, wipe with a clean cloth and allow them to air dry. It is rather impressive how much dirt and oil transfer from your hands to your grips.
Doing this after every ten rounds will not only make the grips tacky again but will also extend the life of your grips.
Feel free to contact me, email@example.com, to help with your grip selection and maintenance questions.
As long as you are willing to keep your eye on your dream no matter how long it takes! My latest blog is dedicated to Anne Van Dam who had her breakthrough victory on the Ladies European Tour!
Anne Van Dam from the Netherlands, outlasted local star Yuting Shi in a riveting final round duel to earn Anne her first Ladies European Tour title at the Xiamen International Ladies Open in China.
Van Dam, finished 17 under par after firing rounds of 70, 66, 67 and 68, one strike ahead of Shi at Orient Golf Club.
The journey to the winner’s circle logged many hours on the links and in the air for this 21 year old from Arnhem. Anne and her family began making annual visits to the Brad Brewer Golf Academy when she was 12 years old. Her father, Roelof, an airline pilot with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, would bring his daughter for training when a scheduled flight to Orlando coincided with a school break. Anne was a gifted athlete and a good young player with excellent coaching back home. I helped them with key areas of focus to support her amazing natural talent. Our concentration was on sound fundamentals and how to practice like a pro.
Shortly after Ann’s breakthrough win, a client and friend, Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, America’s first African American female combat pilot, was in Orlando to deliver a keynote speech, based on her bestseller, Zero to Breakthrough: The 7 Step Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter.
I asked FlyGirl to share her wisdom on creating her breakthrough victories:
“Who Needs a Runway? Take Off from Where You Are! The bottom line is that we have to move into action from where we are! Unfortunately, many people become paralyzed in the preparation phase. Decide what you want, put your stake in the ground and execute! Commit to the commitment!”
This past April after a 4-hour training session, I had no doubt Anne would accomplish whatever she set out to do. Her combination of self-confidence and enthusiastic determination to do better allowed her to whole-heartedly embrace the player development process, committing to the work necessary to achieve success. Approaching the final 18th hole tied for the lead, Anne said she credits her patience after a bogey on #6 due to a disappointing putt. Her focus turned to holing every approach shot allowing her to par every hole thereafter.
How might you learn from Anne’s approach to create your next Breakthrough?
- Look at the challenges of game improvement as a rewarding journey.
- Seek out a team of experts to help you map out your plan of work based upon goals that incent you. The best teachers/coaches support the natural ability of a player and simplify the complex by instilling sound fundamentals combined with how to practice with purpose and measurable outcomes.
- Define what works best for you and own it. Your swing and approach to playing must allow you to grow confidently each and every day.
- Learn to trust your intuition and play with confidence. Intuition is listening to your inner voice and playing from a (right brain) subconscious manner versus over thinking that leads to second guessing and self-doubt.
Arnold Palmer said it best, “Confidence is the combination of focus and hunger.” Anne’s confidence was fed by her desire to play to her potential. How hungry are you?
EMOTIONS RUN THE SHOW by Top 100 Teacher, Brad Brewer
Playing your best golf involves three vital skill sets: fundamental technique, tactical execution and emotional control.
Of the three skill sets, emotional control is the “I got this” one. Translated into 18-hole language, “I will take a couple deep breaths as I brush my club through the rough looking for my ball…the first time. The second time I will bounce my club off the ground in a fit of anger and then go look for my ball.”
Where’s the control?
True emotional control begins with the awareness that there are four defining moments that make or break each round you play: How you start, how you handle the first big miss, how you respond to your first great hole, and, how you finish.
Slow Starts No More
Nervousness and tightness also known as, “first tee jitters” are real and afflict new player to tour player.
Reducing this condition begins in the warm up. High performance players use their last shots on the range to simulate play on the first tee. Once on the tee box they will take several deep breaths for the purpose of creating rhythmic breathing, calming their heartrate and quieting their mind. Often, overthinking is the culprit that causes agitation. As you are breathing deeply quiet your eyes by focusing on just one specific spot like your thumb nail or shoe tip. Soon, your eyes, heart and mind will be calm. You are now ready to start your round like a champion.
Even the best golfers on tour can derail with the first bad swing of the day. On the surface it may appear all is still well, but to an experienced coach, some of the things observed are eyes darting back and forth, standing over the ball longer than normal, or abandoning their pre shot routine.
The player who can bounce back with a birdie after a double bogey is the one to bet on.
Jack Nicklaus is the boss of the Bounce Back Stat. He could stick to his routine because he could let go of his last shot. He forgave his misses and stayed focused on what he wanted to create instead of trying to blame faulty technique. This approach kept him in right brain creativity rather than tied up in left brain analytics.
Riding the Birdie Train
Just as an errant shot can cause emotional turmoil for a golfer, believe it or not, so too can a birdie. And who said this game is 80% mental?
Emotions, good or bad, run the show!
A successful hole, just as a disastrous one, can cause us to alter our thinking which affects tactical approach and emotional calmness.
Riding the birdie train requires letting the last one go and approaching the next hole with a clean slate. When I think back to my own “rides” during competitive play, I stayed focused on playing fearless and aggressive until I ran out of holes. Of course I learned this only after making the mistake of doing otherwise. One story in particular resonates with this lesson. I was playing in the Makaha Open on the island of O’ahu. I finished the first round with five consecutive birdies and then had to go straight to work as a first assistant at Turtle Bay Resort. Remarks from co-workers ranged from, “Man you were on fire!” to my director of golf whose comment, “Well that has to be a first!” was the last I heard. I started my second round thinking about how I needed to prove those five birdies were not a fluke and proceeded to give them back one by one until I got out of my own head.
As I illustrated with my own story, struggling to close out a good round is due to the emotional connection to the score and where you are to par. Whether you are ahead of expectation or behind.
My mentor Arnold Palmer shared his thoughts on finishing strong:
“Finishing well begins with an expectation of finishing well. I remember playing a tournament where in the practice round I said to myself, I am going to own this 18th hole. That week I finished 7 under for the week and approached the final hole at 5 under par. There was no care of where I was on the leaderboard or what others were doing, I just focused on owning that last hole.”
In summary, the next time you walk onto the range to prepare for your round, 1. Use your last few shots to simulate play on the first hole. 2. Making your way to the tee box, reinforce your expectation of finishing well. 3. On the tee box, calm your eyes, heart and mind. 4. Forgive errant shots and 5. forgo being score bound. Repeat 2, 3, 4, and 5 as often as necessary and you will be running the show, not your emotions.
Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Which steps were easiest? Which was most challenging?
We often strive to “stay the same.” But the truth is, we are either growing or dying. Same can be said for swinging a golf club, playing a musical instrument or speaking a second language. If we are not striving to do a thing better than the day before, we are not just “staying the same”, we are in fact getting worst! This lesson from my most recent book, Mentored by the King, will shed further insight into the Pros Secret to being consistently better. Enjoy!
Lesson 30: Don’t Dwell on Yesterday’s News
A tournament win is a benchmark in a Tour professional’s career. It’s also likely to be a greatly cherished memory, and I’ve come to notice how many champions memorialize their great feats by designating a room in their home for the trophies and memories. Some outsiders looking in would consider them to be shrines to their great achievements.
I’ve also noticed how many athletes, after reaching the pinnacle, don’t seem to produce the same results after their big victory. In fact, after big wins, there have been many times when very successful golfers slid into a slump and sometimes even disappeared from the leader board, never to be seen again.
How does this happen? What is the difference between the one-hit wonder and the few great ones who keep winning? And why don’t some continue in their winning ways?
I was about to find out.
No Room in the Inn
A short time after having been hired as the director of Arnold Palmer’s Golf Academy, I was invited to the Palmers’ home for dinner. I arrived a few minutes early that evening, and Mrs. Palmer greeted me at the door.
“Arnie is still getting ready, Brad,” she told me. “He will be down shortly.”
Knowing that she was busy preparing dinner and not wanting to be a bother, I asked if it would be all right for me to take a self-guided tour of the “trophy room.” With Arnold Palmer’s ninety-two lifetime Tour wins, I thought his trophy room must be a sight to see.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Brad,” she replied, “we don’t have such a room.”
I was puzzled but dropped the subject. Later that evening, however, during dinner conversation, my curiosity got the best of me. “Mr. Palmer,” I began, “ninety-two Tour wins?—??that’s a lot of hardware! So how come you have no trophy display?”
Arnie put down his fork, looked me straight in the eye, and said, quite excitedly, “For what? That’s yesterday’s news!” After a brief pause and that characteristic confident grin of his, he went on to explain.
Nostalgia is a seductive liar. ~American diplomat George W. Ball
“Don’t take me wrong, Brad, I have enjoyed every victory and greatly cherish the memories. We’ve even celebrated a little bit after each one. But come Monday morning of the next week, I’m no different than the man who missed the cut last week. In fact, he is probably hungrier than I am. So if I am to be competitively ready, I must get my thoughts off yesterday and deal with today. There will be a day when I can take the time to look back. But as long as I want to stay competitive, I must never stop and marvel at what I have accomplished?—??only forward to my next challenge at hand.”
As long as I want to stay competitive, I must never stop and marvel at what I have accomplished — ?only forward to my next challenge at hand.
~ Arnold Palmer
There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.
~Oxford professor and author , C. S. Lewis
What might be stopping you in your game, business or life from forging forward to the next challenge and conquest?
When I was a young competitive player I can remember times when I would be driving it so poorly that I would go and take a lesson from my coach, get the advice on how to improve and then practice until I improved my driving. The next week I would drive it well and then my putting would go off. It always seemed like I was chasing my tail, having one part good and another part off. I worked under the operendo of “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.”This went on until I eventually learned how to focus daily on managing my core foundational feelings that allowed for me to be ready to perform with every club in the bag.
Remaining focused on the process of being the best you can be today, each and every day is not easy. But it’s the key difference maker between ordinary and extraordinary performers, businesses and relationships. Resting on your success of yesterday can take you right out of business tomorrow, under that very same premise that “anything living is either growing or dying but never staying the same”.
What might you consider thinking, feeling and doing differently with your game, such as my mentor, Arnold Palmer did with Yesterdays News?
Bold and mighty, fearless and aggressive, these are excellent adjectives to express the style of play that it takes to win at golf. A junior golfer trying to win for the very first time or seasoned tour players attempting to break records; winning is an attitude of positive, fearless and aggressive thinking, feeling and doing. I share with you a chapter from my book Mentored by the King, as Arnold Palmer explains his playing bold and going for broke thought process.
Lesson 17: Go for Broke
My personal copy of Arnold Palmer’s best-selling autobiography Go for Broke: My Philosophy of Winning Golf is well worn, with dozens of dog-eared pages as proof of my personal endorsement. I’ve considered the book to be a staple, a handy resource that sums up Arnold Palmer’s aggressive and unique approach to the game of golf. Sitting across from Arnie one day, I opened up its pages to one of my favorite quotes that he wrote almost forty years ago: “My test is always to go for broke?—??to try to win when common sense says it’s all over.”
“You wrote that line four decades ago,” I said, “at a time when you still had years of golf left in you. What does ‘go for broke’ mean to you now as you look back over your career and life?”
“I just went about playing golf the very best I could with all my focus on trying to win,” Arnie said. “When you go for it, you will win some and also lose some. But I never looked at my losses as others did. I was disappointed but always felt like I learned something that was going to allow me to win next time I got into that same situation. ‘Go for broke’ for me is just that, putting it all on the line for a chance at victory. That was fun for me, exhilarating, and very gratifying as well.”
An Early Influence on Letting It Fly
While he was still a teenager living in Latrobe, Arnie crossed paths with Babe Didrikson Zaharias, an early female sports superstar. Babe became known for her prowess in track and field, basketball, and, yes, golf?—??and Palmer, along with his father, Deacon, had the good fortune of playing a round with her. He remembers the day with great fondness.
“She was an extremely attractive lady and so nice. She talked to me like a buddy and a friend,” Palmer remembered. “But she was also a great performer, and I’ll never forget, she said, ‘Arnie, I’m going to loosen up my girdle and let it fly.’ And she did just that. She hit that ball farther than I could believe. At the time, I was very young in my golf and hadn’t gotten to the point where I really knew what was going on, and I was very impressed with her. So that, coinciding with the things my father had been talking about, helped me model my career a little bit.”
Most golf historians point to Arnold’s gutsy moves at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in Denver as the beginning of his tradition of aggressive play. For the first three rounds, he aggressively played the very tough first par-four hole?—??but with poor results. On Thursday he double-bogeyed the hole, he bogeyed it Friday, and during the first round on Saturday he finally parred it. Conventional wisdom would have dictated a conservative approach during the final round, but he went for it again?—??and birdied the hole. He would go on to birdie five of the next six holes and charged back to win the tournament. To this day, overcoming a seven-stroke deficit on the final day of play stands as the greatest comeback in U.S. Open history.
But Palmer’s penchant for aggressive play can actually be traced back to his high school play. In the state high school championship held at Penn State, Palmer recalls ignoring the advice of his high school friend caddie, who advised a cautious shot near the end of the final round. Instead of playing it safe, a young Arnie drilled his shot with a five iron over some trees. When asked why he didn’t play it safe, he responded, “I didn’t think that way. I saw the gap in the trees and thought, That’s a shot I think I can make, so that’s what I did. I guess I wasn’t smart enough to do it any other way.” Interestingly, he can also vividly recall the approving roar of the crowd in the gallery that afternoon. It would become a sound he never grew tired of hearing.
The Beauty of Boldness
I’m regularly inspired by the talks and writings of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. For over fifty years, he served as the senior pastor of New York City’s famed Marble Collegiate Church and became known as the “father of positive thinking.” But he wasn’t always so chipper and optimistic about life. As a young boy and man, he suffered terribly from bouts of inferiority. When he assumed the pulpit of Marble Collegiate in 1932, the country was mired in the depths of the Great Depression. Only a few hundred people regularly showed up for services. The church was dying. Peale admitted to almost quitting several times?—??for several reasons?—??but he didn’t. Instead, he launched an aggressive recruiting campaign for new members. He decided that if people wouldn’t come to church, he’d go to the people.
Over the years, Peale accepted nearly every speaking invitation he was offered: the Lions Club, the Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, and others. It was a gutsy thing to do, being a pastor and wading into a clearly secular environment. He was also roundly criticized by fellow members of the clergy (for going soft), by intellectuals (for being too simplistic), and even by secularists (for being too religious). But he felt that he had something bold and effective to offer?—??the promise of the gospel?—??and he didn’t shy from the open doors he was offered.
You might say Norman Vincent Peale was “going for broke,” being bold and adventurous, taking a chance. I’ve always liked what he said on the subject of risk:
A certain degree of boldness is required of the individual who wishes to make more of himself. Boldness is an activator of power from the mind. As an author once said, “Go at it boldly, and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.” The mind, ever the willing servant, will respond to boldness, for boldness, in effect, is a command to deliver mental resources. Boldly expect, and the power will come through.
Risks and Rewards
Arnold Palmer would cross paths with Peale through the years, and though they pursued very different lines of work, they clearly saw eye to eye on the benefits and risks of boldness. “The truth is my playing style caused me to lose as many majors as I won,” Palmer admitted. “Did I behave irresponsibly? Not totally, because I had something in mind I wanted to do. Am I sorry for what I did? Yes, I am. Would I do it differently? Probably not. It’s the way I was, and that’s something I have to live with today.”
When taken in context, Arnold Palmer’s admitted regrets are attributable to a mix of youthful exuberance and plain old inexperience. At the 1966 U.S. Open, he let slip a five-stroke lead with three holes to play and wound up losing a one-round playoff the next day too. When discussing his decades-long rivalry with Jack Nicklaus, Mr. Palmer said, “At times we became so hyper about beating each other that we let someone else go right by us and win. But our competition was fun and good for the game.”
In 2000, the National Golf Foundation conducted a study examining what types of barriers and problems kept people from playing and continuing to play golf. Interestingly, though game improvement was the focus of the study, researchers concluded that the fear of looking bad stops many high handicappers from taking lessons. Having been around golf courses my entire life, I know this is true, but I’ve never understood it. When I come across a duffer, I’m often tempted to say, “Look, you know you’re a hacker. I know you’re a hacker. I know you know you’re a hacker. So why does it bother you that you know that I know that you know you are a hacker? Might be best to get over yourself, and let’s get on with it!”
Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad and I will show you a man you can beat every time. ~Former major league baseball player, Lou Brock
I regularly tell my clients (and myself) that “good shot or bad shot, it’s all good as long as we grow from it.” Self-awareness is necessary to learn from our mistakes. If we’re fearful about looking bad in front of others, our mind will remain focused on what we don’t want to happen.
If we’re fearful about looking bad in front of others, our mind will remain focused on what we don’t want to happen.
The Lessons of Legends
Jack Nicklaus once said that embarrassment was one of his greatest motivators. Note that he said it was a motivator?—??not a deterrent. He told of a time, early in his career, when he double crossed a tee shot and pull hooked it left and out of bounds on the sixteenth hole of his final round. The error caused him to lose the event. He remembers telling himself, I will never do that again! After the tournament, he didn’t make any excuses, nor did he become fearful of embarrassing himself again. He began practicing, repeatedly playing that same situation over and over again in his mind. He convinced himself that the next time he found himself in that position, he was going to execute right down the middle of the fairway?—??and indeed he did just that.
Jack and Arnie are not afraid to put it on the line. In fact, doing so was a big part of the fun for them. They enjoyed the buzz of their hearts beating and experiencing the adrenaline rushing as they attempted to pull off a winning shot. One common difference that I have observed between the champion professionals and the rest is what happens after they finish their round of golf. The leaders will head to the practice tee to continue perfecting their game, while most golfers head directly to the nineteenth hole for a drink and a bite to eat. (In golf, the “nineteenth hole” is a term usually reserved for the bar at the club or course, but can be any drinking or dining establishment that golfers head to after eighteen holes.) This round of practice after a game might appear obsessive, but they’re actually releasing the mistakes of the day and replacing them with the correct feelings of proper execution. At a time when the average golfer is commiserating with pals about that sliced tee shot on number eight or the missed putt on the final green, the pro is moving ahead of the problem, still going for broke.
Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.
~Clergyman and writer Basil King
When I celebrated my 54th birthday, I mused this as being my “perfect score” year. Later that week, The Golf Channel aired “59”, a show comprised of interviews of players who shot a 59 in a PGA or LPGA Tournament. There have only been seven players ever to accomplish this perfect feat. You’ve tasted that moment when all was going amazingly well and you were in the zone, you turned off your conscious efforts and went with the flow. Most zones last about as long as a blink truth be told! But the “perfect score seven” experienced the zone for almost an entire round of golf. What did they do differently and how might we learn to play our best golf more often? I share with you a chapter from my book Mentored by the King, as Arnold Palmer certainly became familiar with this illusive space called “the zone”.
Lesson 25: Getting Into the Zone
Let’s face it. When we’re on the golf course, it’s so easy to have our thoughts race between what has happened on past outings and what might occur going forward. These distracted or disjointed thoughts can take us on an emotional roller coaster and cause a loss of focus regarding what we want to accomplish.
Too many of us live a frantic and frenzied life. Our “margins” are narrow. We are reactionary in nature. We may dream, but we rarely plan and execute. We’re constantly responding to other people’s needs and demands. I have a friend who says he refuses to live off someone else’s “out box,” meaning just because it’s a priority for them, it doesn’t mean it has to be a priority for him. That may sound a little cynical, plus it’s easier said than done.
Beware of Escalating
As humans, we are prone to escalate rapidly in our emotions, connecting the feelings of one moment to the next, rather than isolating incidents. For example, if you’re a father and you’ve just had a heated discussion with your teenage son, odds are your next conversation with your wife is unlikely to be the sweetest you’ve ever had. A wife who has had a rough day with toddlers is more likely to be short-tempered with her husband. Soon the whole house is upset and on edge. Have you ever noticed this pattern leading you from one problem to the next? It’s like the guy who was trying to repair a slow drip under his sink. He grew so irritated at his inability to loosen the fitting that he took his wrench and smashed the PVC pipe to the main water line. Within two minutes, his entire kitchen was flooded. Bad move!
We often hear people gripe and groan. “I just can’t catch a break!” they say. But are they paying attention to see their breaks, or are they so blinded by woe that they’re looking in the opposite direction? If you look for trouble, trouble will always find you. It’s simply the law of attraction.
The golf course is really no different. In fact, I’ve always thought the game of golf is a great metaphor for life. There’s a natural tendency to react negatively when we hit a poor shot?—??when that’s all it really is, just one poor shot! Our response often causes us to go into “fight or flight” mode without any awareness it’s even happening. Granted, it’s only natural to get caught up thinking about the outcome of our score, but impatience and irritation are always detrimental to the game, causing us to “force” shots.
Balancing Aggression with Patience
I’m often asked who in the sport of golf today best exemplifies an approach similar to Arnold Palmer’s “go for broke” style of play. Phil Mickelson, in my estimation, is the modern-day disciple of this approach. He’s always taken charge on the course and been a highly focused player. There is intensity, but there’s also something else: patience! Patience learned through failure! But, you might say, wouldn’t a tendency toward aggressiveness contradict a penchant for patience? Not necessarily.
The key to finding your ideal “performance state” is by first calming down.
I often tell my students that the key to finding their ideal “performance state” is by first calming down so that they can eventually speed up. You’ll note that I didn’t say slow down; I said calm down. I borrow this insightful line of wisdom from life success mentor and coach Bob Proctor. He says, “You don’t have to slow down, you must calm down. Because when you calm down, it will often allow you to speed up getting that which you want.”
You don’t have to slow down, you must calm down. Because when you calm down, it will often allow you to speed up getting that which you want.
~ Life success mentor Bob Proctor
For over fifty years, Arnold Palmer has followed the same routine before striking a shot in practice or in play. Prior to walking into his address position, he takes a massively deep breath through his nose, filling his entire chest cavity, and then calmly releases it through his mouth. If you’re listening attentively, as I have done for thousands of his shots, the exhale sounds very much like a soft version of an old-time train engine releasing its steam. (Puff, puff, puff, puff, pufffffffffff). I don’t know if Arnie is even aware of this mannerism. The more important the shot, the more pronounced his breathing exercise becomes.
The next time you’re watching a telecast of professional golf, take a moment to observe the behaviors outside of the actual swings. Study the players’ body language and behavior. What do the majority of them do when they’re preparing to hit that key shot? How do they look when they’re walking around the cup preparing to make that winning putt? That’s right, they usually appear calm and serene.
I liken the habits of Tiger Woods to those of a big cat circling its next meal. Tiger’s walk is smooth and flowing. His eyes are wide open, bright and alert. If we had a heart monitor on him, I believe we would discover that his heartbeat is slowing through deep rhythmic breathing and quieting thoughts.
Getting Into the Zone
There is a difference between just waiting for something to happen and the habit of deliberately practicing patience. Patience is not waiting for something good to happen; that’s just what I call wishful laziness. I like what professional golfer Johnny Miller said: “Serenity [in golf] is knowing that your worst shot is still pretty good.” Again, Johnny’s not suggesting it’s okay to settle for second best; he’s affirming the importance of self-confidence and the effectiveness of a calm and cool approach to the game.
Serenity [in golf] is knowing that your worst shot is still pretty good. ~ Golfer Johnny Miller
It’s possible to possess Palmer’s aggressive approach to winning and remain calm in mind and approach. There’s a lot of talk about athletes getting into “the zone.” From my years of working with professional athletes, the typical star explains the zone like this: I am relaxed and tension free. Time seems to stop and decisions come quickly and easily. I see things fall into place moments before it actually happens. I am fearless and aggressive. I am calm and having fun creating what I want with no thought about how?—??I just do it.
Not surprisingly, research has confirmed these anecdotal reports. Roland A. Carlstedt, a clinical sports psychologist with Capella University in New York City, led a study designed to examine the internal thoughts of athletes during critical moments of competition. The findings?
Winning athletes possessed [a] hypnotic ability, but were not neurotic. They showed great skill in repressing negative thoughts and keeping their attention on the job at hand?—??a left-brain activity.
Those who crumbled also had the hypnotic ability, but their negative thoughts took over, especially at the most critical moments?—??a right-brain activity.
The ability to stop the transfer of intrusive thoughts?—??from the right brain to the left brain?—??is a crucial part of staying focused through crucial moments of competition.2
Taking time out of your life to calm down will actually help you speed up in getting what you really want. As silly as it might sound, I would encourage you to make the pursuit of quieting your mind a focal point of your life. How?
Meditation and prayer help us to calm our spirit and focus on the most important things. “Successful [people] will employ the latest and best-tested methods in production, distribution, and administration,” Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “and many are discovering that one of the greatest of all efficiency methods is prayer power.” I couldn’t agree more.
I’m currently using a fascinating software program called HeartMath, initially designed by heart surgeons to help trauma victims develop control of their emotions through biofeedback and techniques in breathing and thinking. I have successfully used HeartMath in training golfers to understand the ideal performance state and how to shift into that state of coherence we call “the zone” through playing interactive video games with biofeedback. This incredible technology is helping many of my players reduce stress and develop a keen awareness of the mind and the body.
How golfers feel emotionally will greatly affect their actions and results. They might have perfect technique but think themselves into poor results. With practice, the disciplines learned through HeartMath allow golfers to control their emotions instead of the emotions controlling them.
Getting On Track
Momentum is a powerful force. It’s an energy that’s usually triggered by a series of small victories. If you’re currently stuck in a rut or feel as though you’re meandering without purpose or direction, here is the very best thing you can do: Look for an easy and simple success. If you’re unhappy at work, prepare that résumé. If you want to reconnect with an old friend, write that letter. If you’re estranged from a loved one, make the phone call. If you feel unorganized at home, clean out a closet. Looking for a new adventure? Sign up for that class. In other words, pick the low-hanging fruit. All too often, we allow a pursuit of perfection to become the enemy of good. Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do.
Why is it that some people develop into single digit handicap players while others never break 100? Is it a matter of talent or the lack of it? Or is it purely mental? Trust me, four decades of playing and teaching golf has allowed me to hear it all. Here’s what I think is a difference maker: How practice is conducted. I’m not talking about the amount of time devoted to practice or the number of balls that are smacked. I have chosen Lesson 28 from my book Mentored by the King, Arnold Palmer, entitled Practice Like a Pro because I know it will help you play better golf.
Lesson 28: Practice Like a Pro
It was a late Orlando evening in April, and we were tucked away on the back of the range, a spot reserved for Academy lessons and PGA Tour professionals who were also Bay Hill members. It had every feel of Florida about it, but from the conversation taking place, you would have imagined we were four hundred miles north in Augusta, Georgia. Arnold Palmer quite clearly had Georgia on his mind.
As the evening unfolded, he began narrating with specific detail each of his desired shots for the upcoming four-day tournament. Officials at Augusta rotate the “pin positions” (hole placements) on a daily basis. Arnie being Arnie, he had memorized all seventy-two of them and was now mentally and physically executing the perfectly struck golf shots desired for each one as part of his preparation.
There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
Composer Johann Sebastian Bach
This is a grand example of what successful people do to consistently achieve greatness. They don’t just show up, set up, and try for the best. The steps in the march toward victory begin weeks?—??if not months or years?—??in advance.
Practice, Practice, Practice
A friend once told me of a trip he took to New York City. After an overnight flight, he checked into his hotel room and planned to get some rest before an evening presentation. His sleep was fitful, thanks to the annoying strains of disjointed violin music coming from the room next door. It went on for hours. Frankly, it didn’t sound like much of anything, but having a daughter who was taking lessons, he had a soft heart and endured it.
By mid-afternoon, he was hungry and decided to leave his room for a bite to eat. Just as he left his room, the door next to his opened, and a woman in a long black dress exited. She was carrying a hard black case. Trying to be polite, my friend said, “Are you a musician?”
“Yes,” she said quietly.
“You look like you’re going to a performance,” he replied.
“I am. I’m guest performing with the New York Philharmonic.”
The woman was a professional musician! Her profession might appear quite glamorous when she’s onstage, but she was an elite performer because she was willing to persist and carry out very unglamorous work behind the scenes.
Questions and Answers
Years later, back inside his Latrobe office, I decided to ask Arnie about his infamous practice routine. I described a particular practice session. “I have to say that one of my most memorable occasions with you was the week before Augusta, observing you prepare for the Masters Tournament. I recall us being on the Academy end of the practice range at Bay Hill, and your intensity and enthusiasm were so different than any other practice I had observed.
“The best was when you said to me, ‘What shot would you like to see me play?’ I thought to myself, How cool is this that I’m going to get to play Augusta National through Arnold Palmer’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. I said to you, ‘Okay, let me see your tee shot off the first hole during the final round.’ Immediately I saw you transformed with a youthful and confident enthusiasm. To hear you illustrate the nuances of the shot you were about to execute, it was almost like you were there at Augusta on the first hole on that final day. How real was that visualization practice for you?”
A serious look came across his face. “It was very real,” he replied. “I could imagine myself being there as close as my memory could recall with full color, feels, and even the smells, for that matter. My fond memories of Augusta National and especially the Masters week are so revered and emotionally powerful to me. I can remember the details of things that happened forty years ago as crystal clear, as if it all just occurred.”
I’ve been around hundreds of excellent competitive golfers and played professionally myself for many years. Yet I had never seen such loving intensity and focus with each practice ball struck. Each one struck had its importance tattooed firmly with a spirit of the King’s persistence and determination.
“When did you begin to practice like this during your playing career, and how often would you practice like this before a tournament?” I asked. “Was this unique for Augusta, or did you have this similar intensity for every event?”
“Well, let me think a moment,” he said. “I learned to plan my work from Byron Nelson. He wrote about it in his book, and as a boy I read about it and began to apply the practice of playing the course in my mind before every important round. As I became more seasoned and had played the circuit for a few years, the ability to remember certain nuances of the greens and hole layouts and certain pin placements that the Tournament would seem to select for certain days of the event became very predictable. Especially Augusta. I know where the Thursday through Sunday pins will be, and so do the other guys that have played in the event. So when I see these shots in my mind, I am confident that these are the correct shots to execute for each round of the event.”
I wondered whether it was important to remember or ponder his missed shots. “We know you have a library of great shots and moments. What about the poor shots and failures? Do you keep inventory of these as well?”
“Oh, I suppose,” he admitted, “but certainly I don’t dwell on them. Whenever I didn’t execute on the shot that I wanted, this would usually fire me up to work on that certain shot so that I knew, when I faced a similar shot again, I was ready to execute correctly and with confidence the next time around. I will also add that I never spent much time worrying or being concerned about the shots I missed. Rather I got my head wrapped around doing it right and put it to task again as soon as I could, with nothing but great expectations.”
The Power of Imagination
Arnold Palmer’s simulated Masters practice sessions introduced the importance of using memory and imagination to practice with a purpose. Many of us tend to just hit balls and think mostly about the technique of our swing. We think just hitting the ball longer and straighter will solve our problems. But the best players get better because they are creating shots that begin in the mind. They condition mental faculties that increase their confidence and improve their ability to execute certain shots during practice and transfer that talent out onto the course.
Arnold Palmer has emphasized the importance of never being too concerned over the missed shots, but working diligently in practice to build confidence that he could repeat a certain shot the next time he faced a similar challenge. I would encourage you to try this “practice like a pro” approach toward the end of your next practice session.
This approach has widespread applicability as much off the golf course as it does on it. What’s your dream? What’s your goal?
Let’s start small. Suppose your goal is to have a more harmonious home. Did you know that experts have found that the first five minutes of anything?—??especially the first five minutes coming home to your kids?—??will most often set the tone and determine the mood for the rest of the event? Have you ever thought about “practicing” in your mind how you’d like that time to go? I’m not suggesting that life should be scripted, but a little plotting and planning goes a long way. I know a man who likes to call home at the end of the day when he’s about thirty minutes away. By doing so, he’s attempting to take the temperature of the family and prepare himself mentally for what he’ll find upon his arrival. He then has time to prepare an encouraging word or comment for his kids, as opposed to being ambushed with the latest drama of the day when he walks in the door.
Maybe you’re dreaming about starting a new business. Dreams are good, but dig a little deeper. If you want to open your own travel business, it might be a good idea to visit with someone who is already doing it. Ask about their typical day, week, or month. How does it fit into your lifestyle?
Don’t just show up and expect good things to happen. Former NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird once said that when he was young, he refused to leave the court until he had perfected whatever he was working on that day. “My dream,” he said, “was to become a pro.”
As we all know, he became a pro because he practiced like a pro.
Whether your desire is to become a pro or to possess the competence to break 100 regularly, here are a few more practice suggestions learned from the pros. Begin your session with drills that help you feel core competencies. Starting practice by hitting balls without feeling the correct technique causes conditioning of the wrong technique which is a waste of time and effort and leads to much frustration. This past week I observed Billy Horschel practicing before the BMW Championship with a Swing Belt to sync up his body pivot to left arm swing. His time devoted to drilling early in the week set the tone for a winning week. My second suggestion is practice with visual feedback through either a mirror or video clip from your phone or tablet. A picture is worth a thousand words and feeling new habits must be validated with a visual awareness. And finally, practice competitively changing club and shots each and every time. This will help you prepare for playing golf shots on the course. One of my favorite short game practices short is to take one ball and a wedge with the goal of getting up and down from 9 different places around the green. Chose different lengths and lies keeping score of your under and over for the 9 holes. Practice like a Pro and you will be more confident and better prepared once you get on the course.
Father’s Day weekend is always extra special in my book thanks to the televised coverage of the US Open. This year, both the Men and Ladies will compete on famed Pinehurst Number Two Course. This world class golf masterpiece in the sand hills of North Carolina will certainly test every physical and mental skill of the very best players in the game. It is of my opinion that It always comes down to a single trait that determines who stands alone as victor, and this I now share with you from my book, Mentored by the King, Arnold Palmer’s Success Lessons for Golf, Business and Life.
The Power of Perseverance
Arnold Palmer has always been a stickler for being on time. When it comes to keeping schedules and appointments with the King, the old adage of “better an hour early than a minute late” applies. On this particular day, we were scheduled for a quick trip from Orlando to the first round of the Tournament Players Club (TPC) in Tampa Bay, Florida. I had been advised we’d be “wheels in the well” by 6:30 a.m. (“Wheels in the well” is Palmer’s code for advising when he wants us to be in the air, i.e., the time when the landing gear better be up and locked away in the belly of the plane.) I knew better than to be late.
The privilege of flying on the King’s Cessna Citation X (which at the time of writing was the fastest civilian aircraft in the world, capable of breaking the speed of sound) never gets old. When I boarded the jet that morning, Arnold had already jumped into the pilot’s seat and was going through the preflight checklist. Though he always flies with his trusted copilot, Pete Luster, Palmer began flying in the 1950s and has logged well over 18,000 miles of flight hours.
It was an extremely short flight of twenty minutes, and as we pulled into the Tampa Municipal Airport terminal, I heard him talking to Pete. Arnie sounded like he was struggling mightily with a head cold. When he came out of the cockpit to say “Hello” and “Good morning,” it was obvious to me that the man was miserable. He was squinting through his watery eyes and speaking with a frog-like tenor voice. He looked like he should have stayed home in bed for the day.
Watching the Star on a Different Stage
Over the next several hours, I would observe one of the King’s most incredible performances?—??but this time it had little to do with his swing and everything to do with intestinal fortitude. Arnold is nearly obsessive when it comes to keeping his obligations; if he agrees to do something, it’s almost as good as being done. That day was no different. Palmer had promised he would attend and play in the tournament?—??people were expecting him there?—??and Arnold would not disappoint his fans.
When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you.
Motivational speaker and author, Zig Ziglar
As soon as the courtesy car rolled into the players’ parking lot and word got out that Arnie was on the property, a buzz rippled through the crowds waiting there. I spotted a large throng of people hustling our way. Members of the media, everyday fans, and tournament sponsors all wanted a moment with the “King of golf.” As he made his way from the locker room to the practice fairway for his pre-round warm-up, he stopped and visited, shook hands, and posed for photographs with his fans.
From my vantage point, Arnie appeared to have made a miraculous recovery. He had a broad smile on his face. He was standing tall and acting energized. He looked like a million bucks. From every indication, he was giving his very best to each interaction. Even more importantly, Arnold genuinely appeared to be enjoying himself?—??and because he was happy, everyone around him was happy too.
Throughout the course of his round, out of sight of the cameras and the fans, I would occasionally catch a glimpse of Arnold inconspicuously taking a few deep breaths and resting heavily on his bag. Only Arnold’s caddie, Royce; his pilot, Pete; and I knew that Mr. Palmer was doing his best just to make it through the day. There was no doubt he was struggling, but he never once talked about it or tried to gain sympathy. When it was his turn to go, and cameras and lights came back on, Arnie was onstage and a hundred percent focused on the shot or the conversation at hand. As I recall, Mr. Palmer finished the day with a respectable score of one under par and just four shots off the lead.
The Lesson of the Day
Looking back on that day in Tampa, I realized what a magnificent acting job had taken place. For Palmer, it was truly an example of mind over matter. When Arnold and entourage climbed back into the courtesy car and headed for the airport, he was incredibly congested and hoarse. If I were a star in my seventies with ninety-two Tour victories and more than enough money to pay for groceries, would I have persevered in similar fashion? Would you?
In the days since, I’ve thought about that experience, especially when I am not feeling my best and inclined to blow off the day. In doing so, I’m reminded of the role I play in other people’s lives and how they might be affected or inconvenienced by my absence. The quirky comedian and film star Woody Allen once wryly observed that “eighty percent of success is showing up.” I think Woody’s math is a bit subjective, but the overall premise is correct.
Arnold Palmer has made a career of showing up?—??but he’s beloved for more reasons than his perfect attendance record. He is a disciplined performer who diligently works to feed and maintain a positive mindset, a trait that allows him to dip deeply into his vast reserves and pull off what his body would otherwise not allow him to do.
The idea of “faking it till you make it” is not a principle borne out of disingenuousness or insincerity. Rather it’s a habit of the head and a practice of sometimes doing the hard thing for all the right reasons. It’s giving of yourself for the sake of others. It’s putting the greater good ahead of personal convenience and comfort. I am hoping this short story has inspired you to want more from your game and to pursue the very best to achieve it.
Celebrate your dad! Book your Academy Program now thru June 15th, and bring Dad for FREE. Learn, Play and Stay Packages Based on Double Occupancy. Reserved Half Day, 2-Day & 3-Day Academy Programs must be redeemed by October 1, 2014. Visit www.bradbrewer.com for complete pricing, or call us directly, 407.996.3306, send an email, email@example.com or by cell afterhours, 407.595.3645.
Until next time, happy golfing,
Still three feet off the ground thanks to my weekend traversing pristine Augusta National during The Masters and observing the best players in the world attracting the very best audience in sport, is a perfect example of the next lesson I share with you entitled: The Best Attract the Best. No matter what your current ability level, I am confident this lesson from my book, Mentored by the King, Arnold Palmer’s Success Lessons for Golf, Business and Life will inspire you to pursue like minded people to achieve your goals on and off the course.
The Best Attract the Best
Michael Jordan has been retired from the NBA since 2003, but he’s still considered one of the most recognizable and admired professional athletes in world history. He continues to appear in commercials and films, and, while the famous Gatorade slogan of the 1990s, “I wanna be like Mike,” may no longer be in circulation, its premise still holds true. Kids still want to play basketball with the prowess and skill of Michael Jordan, captured in the lyrics of the Gatorade jingle, “Sometimes I dream he is me.” For decades, kids of all ages have been drawn to this living basketball legend.
In 1992, Michael Jordan came to Orlando for the NBA All-Star Games. And what does a globe-trotting sports icon do before a big game? If he’s in the Orlando area and loves the game of golf as much as MJ, he plays at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge. But Jordan didn’t just come to play golf?—?he came to play marathon golf. We’re talking fifty-four holes in one day!
On this particular day, I was honored to host him and join the foursome with a friend of Michael’s and a student of mine, Robert Damron. Robert had just begun his college golf career and was already named a freshman All-American at the University of Central Florida. At the time of this writing, he was in his fifteenth season on the PGA Tour and a multi-winner. Needless to say, it was a very good thing having him as my partner for the day. (Discretion prevents me from revealing the results of the day’s event!)
A Special Request from the King of Basketball
At the end of a fun fifty-four holes, we were cooling down from the heat of the day and visiting in the clubhouse. Michael leaned forward. “You know, Brad, I would do anything to have the opportunity to play golf with Arnold Palmer. He could tell me when and where .?.?. and I’m there! He’s one of my all-time heroes. Even though he was close to the end of his competitive career when I was old enough to remember, I have watched most of the Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf?? competitions on the Golf Channel. I just loved his fearless and aggressive style as a competitor.”
Frankly, I was taken aback. The greatest basketball player of all time was talking to me like a schoolboy about his desire to hang with the “King of golf,” Arnold Palmer. Still serving in the capacity of host, I told Jordan that I was sure Mr. Palmer would be pleased to hear of his request and I promised to talk with him about it the next morning. Believe it or not, Jordan departed for the game at the Orlando Arena (after fifty-four holes of golf!), where he scored 18 points in a 153?–?113 thumping from the Western All-Stars. I wonder if MJ overdid it with the golf.
I kept my promise. As I was passing through the grill room the next morning, I spotted Mr. Palmer sitting at his usual breakfast table, reading that morning’s Orlando Sentinel. The front-page headlines were about Magic Johnson being awarded MVP of the previous evening’s All-Star Game?—?Magic’s first game since announcing his retirement.
“Did you get a chance to watch that game last night?” I asked him. He said he had and he asked if I knew Michael Jordan had played golf at Bay Hill yesterday.
I chuckled. “I know!” I told him. “I was in his foursome with young Robert Damron. In fact, Jordan had a request for you.”
Mr. Palmer put down his paper, intrigued.
“He wanted me to relay his gratitude for hosting him and said, ‘Please tell Mr. Palmer that I would meet him anywhere, anytime?—?except during the final game of the playoffs?—?to play golf with him. He is one of my heroes and I would really like to have a chance to play a round with the King.’?”
Arnold laughed heartily, a pleased grin sweeping across his face. “He said that?”
A Meeting Fit for Kings
Arnie and Michael finally met and played at a Pro-Am Seniors Tournament at the Stonebridge Country Club in Illinois. How did they square off? Jordan, playing to an “eight” handicap, shot an estimated 36-45-81. The King started slowly, but he shot a 37-36-73?—?just one over par. What was Arnie’s assessment of Jordan’s golf game? “Michael swings the club very well and has a lot of potential,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised the way he goes after a golf ball. I enjoyed the game.”
I have in my library a little black book that I picked up at an airport and read in its entirety on a twenty-five-minute flight from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga. The book is titled I Can’t Accept Not Trying, with my favorite chapter being “Fear Is an Illusion.” The author? Michael Jordan. I suggest that you add this book to your collection. Here is a brief excerpt:
Sometimes failure actually just gets you closer to where you want to be. If I’m trying to fix a car, every time I try something that doesn’t work, I’m getting closer to finding the answer. The greatest inventions in the world had hundreds of failures before the answers were found. I think fear sometimes comes from a lack of focus or concentration, especially in sports. If I had stood at the free throw line and thought about 10 million people watching me on the other side of the camera lens, I couldn’t have made anything. So I mentally tried to put myself in a familiar place.
I thought about all those times I shot free throws in practice and went through the same motion, the same technique that I had used thousands of times. You forget about the outcome. You know you are doing the right things. So you relax and perform. After that, you can’t control anything anyway. It’s out of your hands, so don’t worry about it.
It’s no different than making a presentation in the business world or doing a report for school. If you did all the things necessary, then it’s out of your hands. Either the clients liked the presentation or they didn’t. It’s up to the client, the buyer, or the teacher. I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. That’s why I wasn’t afraid to try baseball. I can’t say, “Well, I can’t do it because I’m afraid I may not make the team.” That’s not good enough for me. It doesn’t matter if you win as long as you give everything in your heart and work at it 110 percent.
Success is something you attract by the person you become.
Jim Rohn, Motivational speaker and author
Arnold Palmer and Michael Jordan share a common perspective. From a competitive standpoint, these two spirits are one and the same. The fast friendship between the two is but one example that the best truly do attract the best. As the turn-of-the-century author Wallace Wattles wrote so eloquently, “To fix your attention on the best is to surround yourself with the best and to become the best.”
For over fifty years, Arnold Palmer has made a habit of doing just that.
The 2014 High Performance Junior Camp season is right around the corner and the tone of the training experience is in sync with what Wattle’s so eloquently said, “to fix each player’s focus on developing the habits of the very best while surrounded by like minded players”. Creating this “Hotbed” of talent inspires learning and growth at an accelerated rate of improvement within a short window of opportunity. It takes place in the shadow of the Convention Center at Rosen Shingle Creek, hosting high powered meetings and conferences every week. Why do these Fortune 500 Companies invest so much time and money traveling to be together when today we can share ideas and communicate instantly and less expensively with social media and online training tools? Because the vibration and energy produced during the gathering of like minded people is the breeding ground for a culture that elicits higher human performance.
Seeking juniors who desire to train with like minded athletes this summer! Call us direct, 407.996.3306, email, firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell, 407.595.3645, and visit www.bradbrewer.com/academy-programs/summer-junior-programs/ for details and enrollment forms.
Until next time, happy golfing,
“Masters Month” has many of you dusting off your clubs and venturing out to the range or golf course for the first time in several months. How will you practice this spring to positively grow your game? No matter what your current ability level, I am confident this lesson from my book, Mentored by the King, Arnold Palmer’s Success Lessons for Golf, Business and Life will inspire you to want more from your game.
You Get Out of It What You Put Into It
Back when I was the director of the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy based out of the Bay Hill Club in Orlando, my days began at 7:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday. The school opened promptly at 8:00 a.m., and I can still remember how one new freshman mini-tour player would be the first young professional on the practice range by early morning light and always one of the last to leave at dusk. That player was someone who would become my good friend and a PGA Tour winner, Dicky Pride.
Dicky’s work ethic was well beyond that of any of the other mini-tour players preparing to go to Tour School in the fall. I also noticed he possessed a strong self-confidence and a willingness to talk openly and candidly about his abilities. Some of the other players didn’t like his attitude. They considered him to be cocky, not confident. Frankly, I was always a bit amused at his strong ego. I thought it showed a great degree of determination, and though his game may not have yet caught up to his mouth, he was declaring exactly what he wanted to accomplish. I admired that about him. He certainly had learned the positive mindset of the PGA champions who were playing out of Bay Hill at that time. Swinging alongside him were greats such as Payne Stewart, Scott Hoch, Greg Norman, Corey Pavin, Mark O’Meara, Ian Baker-Finch, and Brad Faxon, to name just a few.
With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In my honest opinion, Dicky wasn’t the best player to ever show up at Bay Hill with the aspirations of playing on the PGA Tour. In fact, in the summer of 1992, Bay Hill was swimming with young aspiring talent preparing for Tour School in the fall. At that time, Dicky was realistically about the eighth or ninth best player in that group of professionals and amateurs.
Since college, one of Dicky’s coaches has been the world-renowned sports psychologist Bob Rotella. Preparing Dicky for Qualifying School, Rotella had given him a bit of advice similar to that which I had given to Bradley Hughes. It worked for Dickey just as it had for Bradley. (Dicky told me it gave him a boost of confidence and led to quick success on the Tour.) Rotella told him, “Q-school is going to be a little easier than playing the Tommy Armour Tour has been for you because not so many players really believe they can do well at the Tour Qualifying.”
Well, that just fired up Dicky’s already confident attitude and gave him an extra kick at just the right time. Pride and seven other Bay Hill junior members headed to the grinding test known as the PGA Tour Qualifying School that fall of 1992. Only two made it through with full exempt cards: Robert Damron and Dicky Pride. Everyone at the club was anticipating Robert’s success. He had proven himself in the National Amateur events and mini-tours since turning professional. But nobody was expecting such a stellar performance from Mr. Pride—except Dicky.
I’ve asked the then forty-one-year-old Tuscaloosa native to share a story about his first meeting with our mutual friend, Arnold Palmer. According to Dicky, the meeting he writes about turned out to be one of those life-changing conversations that came at just the right time. To this day he remains amazed how a casual and offhand conversation came to inspire him to remarkable success on the PGA Tour.
A Turning Point
As I watched Arnold Palmer come off the steps of the pro shop, my mind and heart began to race. How would I address him? What would I say? I knew I was overthinking things, but how do you properly and respectfully address a legend?
I decided to be straightforward and direct. Greeting him on the putting green, I walked up, stuck out my hand, and said simply, “Mr. Palmer, Dicky Pride. I just wanted to thank you very much for allowing me to become a junior member. I really appreciate the opportunity.”
Mr. Palmer, ever the gentleman, even though he had likely heard a variation of that comment hundreds of times, was polite and gracious. “Oh, good, good,” he replied with a smile. “Now, Dicky, you’re going to try to turn pro, aren’t you?”
“Yes, sir,” I replied. “I’m about to turn pro, and try to play … see what I can do.”
Mr. Palmer paused, placed one hand on his hip and the other on his club. “Well, do you mind if I give you some advice?”
Here was one of my dad’s idols and the “King of golf” himself, and he wanted to give me some advice? I was sweating bullets. “Oh, yes, sir, please do!” I replied eagerly.
“You know, Dicky,” he began, “when you are on tour—” He stopped suddenly, clearly aware that I was hanging on every word. He cocked his head, a sign, I later learned, that he was deadly serious.
“There are no miracles in this game of golf. You only get out of it what you put into it.”
With that bit of advice, we immediately connected. It was the same no-nonsense wisdom that my father taught me about working hard and giving my full energy toward what I wanted to achieve.
Parting ways, I can remember spinning on my heels and releasing the air that was trapped in my lungs. I immediately ran into the pro shop. Throwing myself onto the counter, I hollered to nobody in particular, “I need a sheet of paper and pen!” The three assistant pros behind the counter gave me puzzled looks.
“Excuse me?” one asked quizzically.
I repeated myself a bit more slowly. “I need a sheet of paper and a pen. I’ve got to write something down!”
I still have that “Palmerism” scribbled on that paper in my office for daily viewing:
“There are no miracles in this game of golf. You only get out of it what you put into it.”
For the last eighteen years, those simple words have helped to frame my pursuit of professional golf. I’ve begun every day with one goal: try to improve my game from yesterday. I may not always make it, but I’m going to give it a shot.
Dicky’s story is a great testimonial to the benefits of working toward your goal on a daily basis, for within two years of that first conversation with Arnie, Dicky went on to win the Federal Express St. Jude Classic. He has since had more than a dozen top-ten finishes in PGA Tour events with over $3 million in career earnings.
In order to get something significant out of life, we must put something of significance into our life. To enjoy more fairways, greens and one-putts in May, means doing the good work in April.
Enjoy “Spring Training” with us in Orlando and get a huge jump start on a great summer of golf. Call direct, 407.996.3306, email, email@example.com or by cell, 407.595.3645.
Until next time, happy golfing,