If you watched golf on TV this weekend, you saw 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth essentially melt down on his last 9 holes in this year’s Masters. He was leading at the time and his meltdown allowed the steadier British golfer Danny Willett to win.
John Farnam had some comments on what we could learn from this in his Farnam’s Quips that were published yesterday. He has graciously given me permission to reprint it here.
“Positive outcomes don’t necessarily demonstrate superior play. Superior
play will lead to positive outcomes more often than will poor play, but
even poor players sometimes catch lucky.
It is when you confuse catching lucky with playing well, that demons sneak
Yesterday, I watched the final round of the four-day 2016 Masters Golf
tournament in Augusta, GA.
Not being a golfer myself, I still love watching these consummate
professionals play this game at the highest level. Their skill is a wonder to
Jordan Spieth, last year’s winner, was the odds-on favorite, and no
wonder! He was ahead of everyone else for the entire tournament. By the last
nine holes of the final round, he was so far ahead, I thought, as did many,
he was unbeatable!
Then, demons crept in!
And, I felt a kinship with Spieth, as he fell so suddenly, and so
ignominiously, from glory, because I, and many of my instructors, have done the
same thing- more that once!
The question is:
How much continuous, simultaneous bad news can you handle, and still retain
your sanity? At what point do you unwittingly open the window, and let
demons sneak in?
At its best, golf, like fighting, is a smooth, coordinated, orchestrated
flow of events, a seamless whirlwind of motion. That is, until you:
1) Stray from the present tense
2) Get distracted and allow your concentration to dissipate
3) Start hesitating
4) Start getting in your own way
5) Try to alter an otherwise smooth-flowing technique right in the middle
6) Allow doubt an vacillation to consume you
7) Are swept-up in rapidly-compounding disasters and discover that you aren
’t recovering quickly enough!
During the final day of the tournament, there were three holes-in-one (by
other contestants), and the media, of course, swooped-in to cover those.
And, there were many other spectacular shots that also garnered the attention
fo the media. These events were as melodramatic as they were irrelevant.
None of them materially affected the outcome. They never do!
Then we had the humble Englishman, Danny Willett. A great champion to be
sure, or he would not have been there, but I never heard of him until
Willett’s game was devoid of “great shots.” He played steady, careful,
solid golf. However, he had no bogies either! When Spieth blundered, and
the door opened, Willett gracefully walked through, and never looked back!!
And, if you’re wondering if there is a point lurking in the foregoing, it
“It’s not ‘great shots’ that save you. It’s ‘little mistakes’ that kill
True in fighting, as well as golf.
The Hollywood, overdramatized version of events always draws attention to
occasional, glamorous (and irrelevant) “great shots.” Like the cavalry
arriving in the ‘nick of time,’ great shots always save the day, and we all
live happily ever after!
That manufactured nonsense only happens in movies!
When you’re making little mistakes, episodic great shots won’t save you, as
So, we concentrate on correcting mistakes. It’s not glamorous, nor
entertaining, nor even interesting, at least to the shallow and self-centered.
In fighting, as in golf, the wise work to eliminate “little mistakes.”
The “great shots” will take care of themselves!
“Darling, my legs aren’t so beautiful. I just know what to do with them!”