At least a career in golf accommodates for periods of slow growth. I believe I now understand a little more why it sometimes takes a decade in professional golf before reaching the summit. Success at this level is far beyond talent. It is about continuously doing what you know works and when it becomes mundane, doing it even more. And that is harder than it may sound. I have fallen into this trap and whilst I am frustrated by my poor performances of late I am at least optimistic about the upcoming months because I have realised my mistake.
This has also made me aware of how vital it is to have in place a team of people who can inform you of the hard truths. As individuals no matter how advanced or experienced we are in our fields it is extremely difficult to remember the important and sometimes very basic things and always do them.
This is why I think Malaysia will be the turning point for myself. It was great to see Mike (my coach) again and I sat down with him and Jamie (my very small caddie) and discussed my recent form. It was very honest and we agreed that all I needed to do was what I was doing last year; Drills, Drills, Drills! So while 70 guys were nearly dying in the Malaysian heat last weekend I spent two days reintroducing myself to the stuff that gave me some success last year. And on the eve of the China Open I am feeling quietly confident about where my game is at. I can see shot patterns developing in practice that I remember from last year and quite simply haven’t seen at all this year.
Another thing I have realised is how copying somebody else can be detrimental. Around the end of July last year I started watching Ben Hogan on YouTube and whilst my eyes filled with fascination and enormous envy I attempted to copy some of his ‘moves’. To begin with it went well but as time wore on and the same videos bore on, my ball striking got progressively worse and I was soon to be in helter-skelter mode. Mike, to his credit admitted he should’ve stopped me but he’d only known me 3 months. Jen has know me over 6 years and still I don’t listen so Mike would’ve needed to be uncomfortably forceful. Similarly Jamie acknowledged the same thing but again like Mike our working relationship was still young.
I don’t think I’m unique, or in other words I believe many-now brilliant players-made similar mistakes early in their careers. The key is always recognition. It is about being self-aware and that is tough. Becoming a world class player doesn’t have to take fifteen long years on tour, it can happen very quickly if you as an individual recognise some very important factors and implement people around you who can be honest and vocal using their wisdom that us young people inevitably lack.
Think about Neo in The Matrix, the greatest talent ever to step foot on planet-miles-from-here. He made mistakes, he didn’t believe Morpheus when he told him that he was ‘The One’, at one point he believed The Oracle was correct and we all knew that she could never be right because of her terrible perm. At first Neo was a bit of a fool and he took some beatings from Agent Smith but he never gave up and he trusted Morpheus and eventually Neo became a world beater. And he did it blind. Talk about a success story. Of course this is fiction but Neo represents many great stories. I’m of course not saying I am the Neo of golf and will become ‘The One’, firstly I don’t consider black to be my Sunday outfit and Agent Reed stands in my way. To be frank I forgot the point I was trying to make but I just really like The Matrix.
Seriously guys, from that Wise Old Owl, ni hao.