As I sit here now I have just finished playing a three round mini tour event in Marbella Spain. The weather was very challenging with strong winds for two days and torrential rain for the last day. The event was played over two courses both of which were amongst the hilliest I have ever played and walking them was a real test of your cardiovascular health!
I have not played a tournament for three months and have only played two rounds of casual golf in that time with no practice of any sort either, so I was fairly pleased to finish 7th from around a hundred young hopeful ‘professionals’ with a score of minus one for the three days.
The main point of this article however is to give my opinion on the army of self help gurus that have sprung into existence over the last ten years or so and how being an expert on performance, both in life and in sport seems to be increasingly lectured to us by people who have achieved neither.They call themselves life coaches and profess to know exactly how we should be thinking and behaving in order to achieve our dreams. Their dreams however seem to be closely associated with extricating our hard earned cash by supposedly helping us achieve something tangible, like winning a golf tournament for example. Now I am not trying to say that anyone with a masters degree in sports Psychology or behavioural psychology, does not know the theory of successful or happy outcomes, in either sport or life, and the likes Dr Bob Rotella who has never played any sport to any elite level, has many golfers and other athletes singing his praises, BUT, when one of these types of people is endeavouring to play a game at the highest level and is failing miserably, why would I, or anyone else buy into their theories, if they cannot use them to help their own performance?
My case in point was a young fellow with whom I partnered today. He was a very nice young man with a degree in psychology and a masters in both hypnosis and NLP (neurolinguistic programming) who quickly let me know that he was a life coach and a sports psychologist for rugby players, golfers and a few other sports people. So I asked him what he was doing playing here, he replied that he had played unsuccessfully for a few years before focussing entirely on his guru credentials, but was now being sponsored to play full time for three years.
The first hole at Marbella country club is a very short par 4 and is admittedly tricky, especially in pouring rain, however when a master of hypnosis, NLP and sports psychology, as well as a professional golfer, steps up and snaps hooks a 4 iron out of bounds, with the most contorted of swings I have ever seen, I am sorry but I can’t help but wonder what techniques he was using on himself to procure some confidence, or at least the semblance of a golf shot! Now I know that even the best in the world hit bad shots, but the sheer nervousness and complete lack of composure in this young man was very evident.
He has however written two books that will be published shortly, on how to perform under pressure in sport and some sort of self help life book! He went on to hit many more pressure oriented bad shots. What I mean by this, is shots that clearly were the result of anxiety on particular holes that did not suit his eye and his reactions both verbally and body language wise were not positive.
The thing that I find incredible is how many people will go to work with these individuals based purely on theoretical knowledge and zero practical application. It is for this reason that nearly all of them never actually have a go at achieving something real, like running a successful business or making it to the highest level in a sport, as they know that their theories will be scrutinised, so they take refuge in telling everybody else how to do it.
To this young man’s credit he is actually having a go at trying to play golf for a living and in response to that, I suggested that if he was serious I would be happy to help him improve. He responded very defensively, looked shocked and insulted and said something to the effect of “What could you possibly help me with?” followed by “I think I will just go where life takes me, but thanks for your offer”.
I couldn’t help but think, “I don’t know, maybe as a small guy with no physical advantages or power, that achieved what only 5% of all touring professionals achieve by winning on the European tour, as well as sometimes beating the best in the world, maybe I might know something about performing under pressure in the real world!”
By the way ‘life’ took him to 14 over par the next week for two rounds and a missed cut!