Jul
23

Golf Psychology Lessons from the Open Championship at Turnberry – Part 2

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In part one, I talked about the golf psychology lessons from Tom Watson’s amazing performance both on and off the course at this year’s Open Championship at Turnberry. So what other golf psychology lessons can we learn from some of the other contenders?

Now I know the valiant and expectant Ross Fisher’s challenge effectively died in the thick rough at the 5th hole on Sunday. But he went on to succeed magnificently in a way that world number one, Tiger Woods, miserably failed to do two day’s earlier, despite a signature charge that so nearly got him into the weekend. Ross kept his cool and Tiger lost his rag!

I think that Ross Fisher is such a wonderful young golfer, so polite, considerate and British, so I was in seventh heaven when he left the 4th green on Sunday leading the Open by two shots. It was even better that one of my all time favourites Tom Watson was only 2 behind and Lee Westwood, another favourite of mine was in the mix and playing at the top of his game as well. This was going to be a real treat. I was also aware that one of my old clubmates, Luke Donald, was posting a clubhouse leading score with a final round 67.

After both Ross and Lee hit their irons of the 5th tee into the rough, I was concerned that they might drop a shot, but I never dreamt that Ross would drop four shots! He didn’t really do anything wrong on that hole, it was just the "rub of the green that you get on a traditional links course. He had a terrible lie in thick grass, had nowhere to drop and when he played it, the ball ended up in an even worse spot. He eventually got out onto the fairway playing six, hit a good shot and almost holed a good putt.

It all reminded me of rounds that I’ve had playing in top amateur competitions from the championship tees at Open Championship venues like Royal Birkdale and Royal St Georges where the rough could be almost unfairly penalising. What was different about Ross was that he just kept smiling, stuck to his routine and got on with it. He even smiled and doffed his hat in response to the applause from the crowds when he finally holed out on the 5th green. What’s more, he parred the next hole and his last 10 holes. In other words, he accepted that these things happen on the golf course and just got back on with his job as a professional golfer, hitting good shots and pleasing the crowd. And just in case you forgot, he had the impending birth of his first child to think about as well.

Given his composure, I was surprised to recall Ross saying, in an interview at the Masters this year, that he didn’t use a golf psychologist. He did say that he did have one provided by the English Golf Union back in his amateur days. I’d like to know who that was, because he’s certainly done some good and long lasting unconscious mind work with young Ross!

At the risk of repeating myself, the next time you’re out on the course and the golfing gods or your golf mind seem to be against you, remember how Ross Fisher handled it at the Open. Accept what happened, consign it to the past where it can no longer hurt you and get on with playing the next shot to the best of your ability.

I’ll be concluding this article tomorrow with more golf mind lessons from the Open.

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