I have been playing competitive golf for 55 years. Through the various stages of my life, my approach to the game has taken on many transformations. My recent championship, the Tennessee Senior Women’s Open, proved to be yet another enlightening experience on my road to championship.
It was so different than the first time I made a road-trip to play in a big championship. I was 15 years old, a young whipper-snapper who was bent on winning. It didn’t matter that it was my first tournament away from home and I should have been satisfied with the experience of playing in a national competition. It didn’t matter that this was my first road trip with my mother and that creating a fun memory with her was a good aim. I just wanted to win!
After I shot a horrifying 100 in my first round, all I wanted to do is leave. Mad that I didn’t win, I made my mom get in the car and make the five-hour drive home from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh immediately after my round. I could not see that there is much victory between a winning and losing score.
Forty-six years later, I have learned that no matter what you score, you can achieve total victory on the road to championship.
While I now help others become champions as a performance coach, I thought it would be good to tee it up myself. Over the years, I have learned and taught that the mental-emotional state in which you play is even more important than your skill level. In order to reach peak performance, you have to create an Ideal Performance State of total positivity and calm concentration.
I’ve also learned and taught that identity is the key missing ingredient in high performance. You are not a champion because you win a trophy. You are a champion based on who you are. Helping others connect their head and their heart with the truest part of themselves, empowers a player to play from victory. They play from a high sense of self-belief in their heart.
As I headed to Tennessee, I packed my bags along with all the dynamics of the inner game that I live, breathe, and teach. While I have not played a lot golf, I had victory in my spirit.
One of the challenges of playing golf in Tennessee in the summer is the high probability of rain. This time around, the rain and thunderstorms were constant. The first day we had a four-hour rain delay. I didn’t tee off until after 4 pm! Come the 16th hole, we were playing with the fire flies and all the chirping night sounds. My focus and ability to read the greens was stellar. My ball had a little GPS system on it—I made putts from everywhere! I was leading the TN Senior Women’s Open by 5 shots after the first round!
The next day I had to get up at 4:45 to finish my round. Due to three bad nights of sleep from a noisy hotel, I was very tired. My mind was so tired I could not focus. A total turn-around from the day before, the wheels came off. I topped 3 balls into the water on my drive on one hole, ending up with an 11! I ended up losing 14 shots to the eventual winner.
While my emotions felt a letdown for about fifteen minutes, my spirit rose up. I thought, “It’s just a score and nothing more.” It came again, this time with a little melody, “It’s just a score, and nothing more. I play free. I have the victory.”
Unlike my 15 year old self, I did not feel the sting of defeat for more than a moment. All I felt was victory. Victory in winning the first day. Victory in defeat my second day—why? Because my worth has NOTHING to do with my score.
Neither does yours. Whether you are playing in the US Kids, the National High School Team Championship, or any other competition, my encouragement to you is to PLAY FREE. You don’t have to wait 46 years to discover this reality. You can discover it on the road to championship today.
Enjoy your entire experience. Embrace your family and friends—all the relationships that come your way. “To enter” is to win. And most of all, know that your priceless worth as a person has nothing to do with your score! That’s total victory.
If you would like some help for yourself or your competitive junior golfer and are in the Orlando area, please join me on Friday, August 21st, for a one day Breakthrough to Your ‘A’ Game workshop at Red Tail Golf Club in Sorrento, Florida.
More info here: redtailgc.com/instruction.
Hope to see you there!
Veronica Karaman is the founder of truechampionacademy.com, a performance coaching practice on-line and in person and the author of The Champion’s Way: Core Foundations to Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life, available on Amazon.com. You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org