For those of us who don’t live in states where you can play all year round, golf becomes a mind game. Instead of playing a round of golf, I will relive shots and rounds in my head. For those of you who have sturdy swings, win your fair share of bets and have an office shelf dedicated to your tournament trophies, your memories are warm and fuzzy. In other words, your flashbacks reinforce your successes, your victories.
On the other hand, I, a mid-60-year-old, 12 handicapper, start reliving shots and rounds, too many of my recollections roam toward the grim. For example, two years ago, in one of our club’s season-long, match-play events, I was even with Charley Benson on the 11th hole. I am 15 yards from the green in two and I am getting a shot. Charley, who is a solid 7 handicapper from our back tees, is short and left of the green and is facing a severe downhill chip. I was already thinking that I have a 1-up lead going into 12. Well, Charley chips in for birdie and it takes me three to get in. I walk away 1 down and Charley starts walking away the match.
Now everybody at our club knows Charley is consistently very good and that I possess a game that has been described in a variety of ways -- from fragile to occasionally okay.
With that said and noted, shouldn’t the handicap system give the less accomplished player a fighting chance a fair amount of the time? In theory, the answer is “Yes.” However, what I suspect and where I am going with this posting is that CONFIDENCE MATTERS. When a player like Charley goes to the course or goes to his memory bank, he undoubtedly remembers the good. Me? In an effort to remember and correct my mistakes, I recall the bad.
Nobody would dispute that skill is important in golf, but it is FINALLY dawning on me that I need to be more like Charley – and, as you will read in the excerpt below, Lee Trevino. Bottom line, whether on the course or in my head, I must start the round with confidence.
This story comes from Roger Maltbie’s book, Range Rats (1999). It is a testimony to the importance of thinking confidently.
Range Rats come in all shapes and sizes, as people in any other culture. Lee was special, and still is on the Senior Tour. If you taped his mouth shut he couldn't break 80. That's just the way he is. And a lot of things he has said and done through the years are legendary Rat stories.
Like the time in Hawaii. At the Hawaii Open, we play at "O Dark: 30," as soon as the sun comes up. Literally you get to the golf course and it is still dark.
This one morning Trevino shows up late. Overslept. And he was teeing off in a few minutes. So he's running on down to the range saying he is late and telling no one in particular that he's got to get going. Then he takes an open spot next to Tom Watson.
Watson says, "Okay, Mex, show me something."
Lee had not hit a ball yet, not one shot. He was still tying his shoes.
"What do you need to see?" Lee inquired.
And Watson said, "Hit the 100-yard sign."
"Give me something tough. That's too easy. Tell you what. I'll hit the right zero," Trevino chirped.
Everybody's watching by this time.
"To do that, though, to hit that right zero, I'm going to have to knock it down and turn it over a little bit right to left," he said.
His first shot hit smack in the middle of that right zero on the 100-yard sign. The players on the practice tee stood silently, thunderstruck, as if they had just witnessed some improbable event, like the sinking of the Titanic. Writ large on every countenance were the words, "Did … you … see … that.?"
"It doesn't take long to warm up a Rolls Royce," Lee hollered over his shoulder as he trotted off to the putting green.
I want to be more like Lee – fun and confident.
Allan (a 12)