The debut of Charlie Woods at the PNC Championship this past weekend was nothing short of extraordinary. Fortunate enough to be there in person to watch all the action, I observed what makes him a promising great player at the tender age of 11.
As a trained performance coach, it’s my job to see into things. I look at what escapes the naked eye of most to identify processes, practices, and mindsets that fuel high performers the average observer does not see.
For starters, Charlie Woods is the great imitator! He swings like his dad. He twirls his club, sets up to his shots, strides to his tee, struts down the fairway, and exudes a competitive spirit just like Tiger does. That’s for all to see. What does he do that all don’t see?
Charlie has a love of practice. Immediately following play, Tiger and Charlie headed straight for the practice tee. After five hours of golf, you would think they would take a break for a bite to eat or something! Instead, they headed right to the range without skipping a beat. It was as if the round of golf plus practice afterwards was all one “motion.” It wasn’t play and then some practice as two separate actions. Play then practice was all in one flow. It was remarkable to see!
The lesson: You cannot become a great player without a love of practice. Potential is only released through action…the action of sustained, dedicated practice.
Champions love to practice. Check for Charlie!
Charlie was focused on hitting specific targets 100% of the time. As soon as Charlie got to the range, he immediately pulled out a sand wedge and hit to a 60-yard (or so) flag. Six of the first ten balls landed within ten feet of the flag. One of them hit the pin. When it did, he lit up like a Christmas tree, and twirled around to see if anyone was there to celebrate the shot with him.
You could tell he was focused, disciplined, and enjoyed the process of repetitive motion. You could tell the practice tee was like a second home to him, that he had spent a lot of time there as a part of his daily life. He was like a hunter who goes out into the wild, shoots his prey, and then come back home to skin the cat. Charlie reminded me of a young hunter going out to hunt down his golf game and then comes back to the range to skin his swing and get ready for the next day’s conquest. He goes out only to come in. How rare is that!
You will never see a pro practice without hitting to specific targets. Most amateurs “just hit” on the range somewhere in the area of “forward.” Most have no love of targeted practice.
The lesson: You don’t get what your desire. You get what you prepare for. Focused practice will separate you from the pack.
Champions have superior focus. Check for Charlie!
Charlie exudes relaxed concentration. I remember watching Tiger Woods at the Valspar Championship a few years ago. Following him for two days straight, I was astounded at his mental-emotional state throughout the entire 36 holes. It never changed or wavered. He was in such an Ideal Performance State of calm concentration—in his own world. He was competing at the highest level with a relaxed concentration with not more mental exertion than if he was walking his dog. I saw this in Charlie: a quiet mind.
In my opinion, that was the most outstanding feature of Charlie’s play, bar none. Here was this little boy, playing in a PGA championship with the big guys. He was as comfortable in the world of adults as I’m sure he is playing in the junior ranks with other pre-teens. He has the ability, like his Dad, to kick back into this own world fueled by a quiet, focused mind and competitive spirit.
The lesson: If you want to play great golf, you must create an ideal performance state for yourself, which is one of calm concentration.
Champions play from a quiet mind. Check for Charlie!
Charlie loves to create shots. Not one time in the entire time I watched this father-son duo, did Charlie focus on swing-mechanics. Did you get that? Not once! It’s an important observation because working on swing mechanics and playing golf engage two different sides of the brain. Focusing on swing-mechanics employs more left-brain activity. Creating shots uses more of your right brain, employing more envisioning and imagining. Playing golf is a right-brain activity!
Seeing Charlie envision and set up to hit his now famous fairway shot, drawing around the trees, to set up his eagle, was an impressive right-brain action. Where most players, even some pros I teach, are too stuck in mechanics mode, here is a young tike who is totally free to play!
Lesson: If you want to be free to play, hit shots, and score, you MUST eliminate thinking about swing-mechanics.
Champions are free to play and create shots. Check for Charlie!
While this list is not exhaustive, it is instructive. Each of these practices and mindsets which Charlie exemplifies is teachable. Every young player can learn these things. You don’t have to have Tiger Woods’ DNA in you to excel. You can learn what Charlie, the great imitator of his father, does. You can be a Charlie imitator!
These exact practices, processes, and mindsets are what I teach in The Champion’s Way: Core Foundations for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life. Helping competitors develop an ideal performance state of calm concentration, learn to play free, enjoy focused practice, express champion mindsets, and create shots are all foundations of forming the inner core of a champion in an athlete.
We all are jazzed about Charlie Woods, the great imitator of his famed father. While you may not have the deposit of greatness from Tiger Woods replicating himself into your child, there is good news. It is completely possible to imitate what Charlie Woods so beautifully exemplifies—the practices and processes of a true champion. I’ve seen that happen over and over again in my students.
If I you would like to bring out the true champion in your player, please visit my on-line training and reach out to me at truechampionacademy.com for your champion checks!
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