Category Archives: Golf

Stop Shooting 125!

teaching

Recently I took on a new young golfer who wanted to uplevel his play on the high school golf team.  He came to me shooting 122.  After the first lesson, he shot 115, and then a sparkling 47 on 9 holes.  His next match was back up to 125.  Something was wrong.  He was making great progress in his lessons, improving his swing and short game. There was no reason to score high again.  The answer was clearly not in the physical realm. It had to be psychological.  He was shooting 125 because he had no internal limits to shoot less.  In other words, he was not “owning his own game” enough to tell himself, “these kinds of scores are no longer acceptable.”  He was not setting internal limits on his performance and demanding a better game of himself–and doing the work to achieve it.

As I was driving home thinking about a champion’s mentality—the resolve to own your own game and call yourself up higher,” I heard an internal voice say to me, “That applies to you, too, Veronica. There are areas of your life where you are shooting 125–putting you in default mode, causing you to just survive because you are not setting limits on a low performance life–and not calling yourself up higher.  It’s time to own your life, make the changes, and and resolve that certain things are “just not acceptable anymore.”  This realization hit me in the gut hard.  Yep, you and I are responsible for our own scoring, which means the results we are getting are not a result of shots that just happened to go bad, but thinking which produced the shots in the first place.

Hit with this conviction, I am taking out 3 days to get away, to fast and pray, to make some clear decisions about saying goodbye to a 125 life FOREVER.  Now if my student only had the ability to shoot 125, that is a different story, but he clearly had the ability to score lower–that’s why staying stuck in a comfort zone is not acceptable.  Staying in the comfort zone of a 125 life is not acceptable because you and I CAN do better.  Equipped with a resolve and some reflection on better thinking, a higher expectation, and the belief that we can do better, we will. It begins with answering the question, “What am I no longer willing to tolerate?”

It’s a powerful question that is the first step to lower scores and higher living.  When we set limits internally, we start owning our own game which will result in getting our shots in the fairway and out of the rough!   our shots in the fairway and out of the rough!

Leveling the Playing Field

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I have always been fascinated by the spiritual side of performance.  While most people think that a competition is simply on a mental-physical plane, we are in reality four-part beings.  This past week I had the chance to experience the emotional-spiritual side of a championship. In this case, it was in the internal completion of a championship that happened almost 40 years ago.  I had no idea there was still something to be completed until I returned to my hometown where I lost my first major championship to the 7th ranked amateur in the United States, and some say it was done in an underhanded way by her.

I was a teenager at the time who had a fiery competitive spirit, but the West Penn Amateur was the most prestigious tournament in Western Pennsylvania at the time.  I had just beaten my biggest rival in junior golf in the semi-finals and now I had to face Judy Oliver III for the championship.  Yep, you heard me right.  The third.  She was the jet-set millionaire type that had everything and I was the pip-squeak who grew up on the other side of the tracks, until the back nine of the competition.

I was 1 up on her on the 14th hole.  She hit her drive out of bounds.  I hit mine slightly in the rough.  Then I hit a freaky shot out of bounds.  We both had a horrendous hole after playing great golf.  She accused me three times of having a higher score than I did when we reached the hole.  I was so afraid, being in the pressure of the moment, that I did not know how to respond, so I thought, “She must know what she is talking about. She is more experienced than I am.”  So I agreed, and conceded the hole.  Only problem was, she was wrong.  We were both on in the same number of strokes, but I gave away the hole because I listened to my opponent’s adamant voice, and ended up losing the tournament by a narrow margin.

The loss was traumatic, as I did not have anyone to help me process the intensity of a fully engaged heart, mind, and body in my competition.  When I got home, I was hoping my mom would console me. She was listening to the radio broadcast the tournament shot by shot and she was more devastated than I was. I ended up consoling her.  The next year I had totally forgotten to enter the tournament, as I psychologically blocked the whole competition out from my mind.

It took me years to process what had happened, and although I never though she had an evil intent in her actions, a lot of people did.  I always admired her, however, and was a bit envious that she had so many more advantages than I did.

When I went to my hometown to play in the U.S. Open Qualifier this past week, I had the chance to reminisce with a lot of people about my upbringing in golf and the people in it.  I asked my friend, Bob Ford, “How is Judy Oliver doing?”  He responded, “Not very well. She died about 12 years ago of cancer at age 54.”  I was stunned and saddened.  Then all of a sudden I also had another thought come to mind, “In the big picture of things, the playing field had been leveled.  I scored a win in the game of life in that I was still living.  I now have an opportunity she won’t ever have and that is I am alive—I am alive to play championship golf age an age that she never will.”  In that moment, I felt something deep inside me have a sense of full closure.  The book was now closed on a devastating first championship experience and how it laid the foundation for my competitive trajectory for years to come.  I didn’t even know there was still something there meant to be brought to closure, but I felt it deep within.  There was no longer a need to even think about that story because I was granted a win in life that surpassed my competitive loss.  I could go on, now fully cleared of that experience, and in a sense be restored to “competitive innocence.”

None of this was conscience to me until I heard of her loss.  Being an emotionally and spiritually aware person, I was saddened for her loss, stunned at the effect that experience still had deep within, and deeply grateful for the sense of closure and new perspective I gained to start a new era of play now from a fresh sense of advantage in my life.  I will always admire Judy Oliver for her life and legacy, and now I can get on with my own in a new way.

All competitions have to be emotionally completed or that energy will stay within you until you deal with it.  If I can help you in your competitive journey, please reach out to me at: veronica@truechampioncoaching.com.

Jordan, Jack, and Unstoppable Success

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My first memory of life occurred when I was three years old on a Saturday afternoon with my dad.  We were staked out on my brother’s bed, tuned into our little black and white television.  Perhaps a better word would be “glued” to the t.v. as the indomitable Arnold Palmer charged up the 18th fairway winning yet another victory to expand his kingdom.  When it wasn’t Arnold, it was Jack staking his claim to  championship territory.  While most little girls were playing with dolls, I was at Daddy’s side absorbing his love for the game and enjoying watching the world’s greatest players seize the prize.

With decades of observing the greats of old as a weekly tradition, and rubbing shoulders with them from time to time, it is no wonder I found myself comparing the new young Master’s champion, Jordan Spieth, to those who have gone on before. As my eyes once again were glued to the television for an entire weekend, I couldn’t help but compare Spieth to Nicklaus.  The two could pass for twins when it comes to similarity of style and the unique factors behind their success.

In terms of the way they play the game, both are strategic thinkers, methodical and along the serious side in their natures. Jack was all about course management and his thinking about how he played his shots.  Ditto Jordan.  While you might argue that Tiger Woods is also a strategic thinker, he is, but in a very different way.  His thinking is much more aggressive and a lot of the time, outside of himself in his fighting style.  Woods’ energy is very forceful and physical.  Both Nicklaus and Speith vent their energy verbally.  They also are very ritualistic in the set-up of each of their shots, meticulous to the bone.

At last year’s U.S. Open I had the opportunity to get inside the ropes to watch the players.  As a performance coach, I am a trained observer and watched each one like a hawk.  When I saw Jordan, he stood out like a like a lone cat in a line of German Shepherds.  There was something about his quiet demeanor, the way he carried himself as champion, and his utmost confidence in himself.  His level of focus was off the charts, and I thought to myself, “Who is this good-looking young guy who conveys the air of an Open champion even in his walk?”  (I have to admit, I also said to myself, “Wow!  Too bad I am not a thousand years younger!  He’s so cute!)  Both Nicklaus and Spieth exude a similar air of a champion who refuses to think about himself as anything less than one–ever—even in a casual walk around the clubhouse.  Their mindset is sealed to dwell forever in the champion zone.

Perhaps the greatest similarity between the two champions is their upbringing. While most people don’t link home life and friendships as causal factors to championship performance, deep trusted relationships are primal to long-term success.  Nicklaus had a very holistic upbringing, playing numerous sports, and was grounded in a solid, intact, family life.  Jack Grout was his teacher since he was a young boy.  The consistent encouragement and friendship that Grout offered Nicklaus through the years had both a pillow and launching pad effect on the champion.  I know this first hand.

One day I was on the driving range watching Nicklaus hit balls with Grout’s eye upon his every shot.  The intensity of Nicklaus’ focus on the range was no less than it was under pressure.  Hitting one irons, each ball shot forth like a torpedo to a tree way down the range. Nicklaus never looked at his target. His eyes were riveted on a spot a foot in-front of the ball.  “Great shot, Jack!”  Grout said to Nicklaus. Jack hit another shot followed by another shot of empowerment from Grout, “Jack, you’re the greatest!”  Grout built Jack up after each shot.  I felt like I was watching a song and a dance routine between the two of them.

While Spieth obviously looked at his targets, they were small ones.  His head was down a lot, focusing deeply on what was right before him.  He chose his caddy because of his powers of encouragement and friendship.  Like Nicklaus, Jordan too, has a grounded home life, a special needs sister whom he is deeply inspired by, and a long term teacher he had since he was an emerging teenager. There is something to be said about the relational dynamics of having the kind of support around you that breeds stability, nurture, and emotional security so that you are free to look outward and soar.  Because I never had that, it is so glaringly obvious to me the power of nurture to one’s success when I see it. Spieth himself credits his family and team as the most important factors in his rise to the top.

Whether Spieth will ever equal or surpass Nicklaus’ record has yet to be seen.  From the eye of this beholder, however, there’s no telling how many more decades this golf chic will be glued to the television screen, engaged in her father’s favorite past-time, cheering on a new generation champion who has already demonstrated the traits of unstoppable success.

Invoke the Slight Edge for Success

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Sometimes it’s not the big things in golf that cause you to advance your game, but the little things done consistently over time.

The other day I was giving a golf clinic to a group of women who wanted to learn how to read greens and develop feel in their game. Considering that feel for the greens is the number one factor in scoring well, it is a much over-looked component to lowering your scores without making a major investment in lessons or equipment. It only takes a little more time to practice strategically before you go out to play.

“The only way to learn feel is to spend time on the greens, especially before you go out to play to give your body a chance to align properly to a target based on the speed of the greens.” I noticed that most high handicappers will hit a putt from one place and then immediately go to another spot to putt without actually taking the time to learn how a specific putt breaks to the hole. Continue reading

Join us for the Big Bloomers Golf Clinic this Sunday

Please join me Sunday, September 21 from 3 to 5 pm
at Longleaf Country Club in Pinehurst
                    Fore 
A VERY SPECIAL GOLF CLINIC:
                     
 WOMEN EMOWERING WOMEN
 Learn:
The 4 Movements to the Golf Swing
                            AND
 The 4 Movements to Becoming a Big Bloomer!
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Hello Friends!
How often have you and I heard the phrase, “Golf is a man’s game?”  As many times as I have looked down the driving range and realized I was the only woman working on my swing in the company of 25 or so men, I just happened to know better:  Golf is a woman’s game—and a passion of mine is to do golf a girl’s way!
That’s why I have decided to use the game to empower women to create a more beautiful life.  While I have used the language with many of you of becoming a champion, in my life-coaching to women, I like to use the term “blossoming.”  Both terms are about releasing your potential to become the best version of yourself.
Mom became the best version of herself when she took up the game at 85 and broke free from a 6 month death sentence due to a terminal heart condition and a death wish to literally blossom while she was dying.  She lived almost 7 more years
and finished strong–Together we re-created her legacy.

Continue reading

The Bloom Trophy

rose trophyI love trophies. As symbols of accomplishment, I have enjoyed collecting, preserving, and letting go of my golf trophies over the years.  It has been interesting for me to see how people value, display, and even define the meaning behind their trophies.

The other day I was watching a television show that highlighted Arnold Palmer. They showed his office with every trophy and award he has ever won filling his walls like well-worn wallpaper.  He had a case off all his golf balls of the championships he won.  Each time he would win a major, he would create another empty space in anticipation for his next championship ball to find a home.  What a great mindset. Continue reading

Birdies for Grandma!

alysaWith the thrill of the Opens now almost at a bygone simmer, I wonder what will forever remain etched in my memory upon reflection of the event as time moves on.  You see, winners come and go.  I found it amazing that Kaymer who won by an amazing ten shots failed to make the cut in his next tournament.  Wie bowed to Lewis who seized backed her champion position in her next event.  Isn’t it the nature of the game that what brings a thrill in one moment vanishes into the parched brown fairway to wither away in sports history oblivion in the next.

Every now and then, however, I meet a true champion, someone whose impact upon my life never fades away, even years after meeting that person. A true champion is someone who impresses you more about who they are than about what they score.  I met such a person in ten year old Alyssa Getty. Continue reading

Too Many Golf Clothes to Quit!

golf shoesI have taught golf for a long time and have heard just about every reason why someone wants to play golf and doesn’t want to play golf.  Recently, however, a lady golfer came to me sharing a deep lament regarding her inner golf conflict that took the cake. Frustrated at her debilitating scores and heightening frustration, she had plaguing thoughts of quitting the game. She confessed to me, “I can’t quit golf.  I have too many golf outfits!”  Continue reading

A Lesson from Lucy Li: Be a bloomer!

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The U.S. Kids World Championship has always been one of my favorite events of the year here in Pinehurst.  There’s nothing like watching a seven year old swing with the ease and power of an up and coming Tiger Woods and wishing I could replicate that child’s near perfect swing!  My involvement this year, however, was different.  Continue reading

To Quit or Not to Quit

teaching

Golf is a funny game.  Unlike other sports, we golfers are haunted on a regular basis with the “quitting demons.”  Why is it that in just about every round of golf or in just about every championship quest a golfer pursues, there is the temptation to quit the game?  The thought has never occurred to me in playing volleyball or tennis or in any other sport.

I think it is in the nature of the beast.  Without question, golf is the hardest sport I have ever played.  When I took up tennis, I could take long layoffs and pick the game back up right where I left off.  The same is true for racquetball.  But golf?  Take some time off and off kiss your game good-bye if you want to play with any consistency.

Today was a real game changer for me because just when I decided to set the game aside for a season, some unsuspecting force came along to open up my mind, release my inner athlete, and get me excited about a whole new pursuit.  Oh, gimme a break!  Just when I was relishing in the thought of giving myself permission to walk away from the torture and frustration of pressing through to the next level, Frank Lewis had to enter into my life—and give me fresh hope—just went I didn’t want any!  Continue reading