Three Things You Can Learn From Jordan Spieth and His Open Victory
Jordan Spieth won The Open in a roller coaster final round that was one of the most dramatic finishes to a major championship. There are so many storylines that can be taken away from what occurred Sunday at Royal Birkdale, but I want to focus on what you can learn from his incredible victory.
Here are three key takeaways:
You Can’t Completely Control Your Mind
Spieth’s press conference after the round was absolute gold. He was incredibly honest about his emotions during the round. Many athletes won’t admit to their inner thoughts, but Jordan spoke truthfully about how all of his doubts and how fear of failure crept into his mind.
One thing that struck me, in particular, was the fact that he spoke about how in golf you have several minutes to think between shots,
…you can’t just go blank. You wish you could, but thoughts creep in.
This is an extremely important concept to understand. While I firmly believe that staying positive and having grit during a round of golf will lead to lower scores you have to realize that you are not in control of your brain. It is impossible to keep negative thoughts out of your head for over 4 hours.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have success.
Fear, anxiety, frustration, and even anger are natural reactions to golf shots. Every golfer on the planet has to deal with these emotions. There are two things I would say here that are important:
- It is possible to hit great golf shots while you are scared or anxious
- You’ll have a better chance at success if you can find ways not to let your round be consumed by mistakes you make
Luckily for Jordan Spieth, he had his caddy Michael Greller alongside him. He spoke at length how Michael was about to calm him down and re-enforce positive thoughts and beliefs about his skill as a golfer. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury, but there are things you can do.
You need to find ways to be your own cheerleader. Those negative thoughts are going to appear at some point; you can’t completely block them. But you can control your reaction to them – talk to yourself, pump yourself up…but mostly remember that you are playing golf for fun, and The Open is not on the line!
Bad Shots Do Not Have to Define Your Round
Here is another spoiler alert – you are going to have horrible shots during your round. Spieth was missing very short putts early in his round, and it was obvious he was visibly shaken. The tee shot on 13 is what all of us will remember though. It was likely one of the worst swings he has ever made in his life.
If there is one thing most golfers are terrible at, it is expectation management. I have witnessed hundreds of rounds that were permanently destroyed (some of them were mine) by reactions to mistakes. The reason golf is so challenging is that 18 holes are a very long time. Many things can happen, good or bad. While I don’t expect anyone to react the same way Jordan Spieth did at The Open, there is something to be said about his journey.
If you let your mistakes define your day, then they will.
You just never know when things are going to turn around. For Spieth, it was sinking a bogey putt. He could have easily rushed things and not focused on that 10 footer, and missed it. If he made double bogey it’s likely he would have lost the tournament.
Every shot has significance, and if you can learn to not give up on a hole (or your entire round) when things are going poorly, I guarantee you will be posting lower scores. It is incredibly difficult, and it’s something I constantly talk about because I believe resiliency is the single most important skill a golfer can have. It’s easy to stay positive on holes where you are making birdies and pars, but turning double bogeys into bogeys is where you are truly spinning gold.
Golf Is Not the Most Important Thing
This is another tough one. When we’re in the heat of the battle golf can seem like the only thing that matters in the world. Jordan Spieth listed golf as the third most important thing in his life (behind his faith and family). I’m pretty sure that when all of you think long and hard about it, golf is not the most important thing in your life.
So while those missed putts for pars and tee shots sailing out of bounds seem like your world is crumbling, the truth of the matter is that the game is really a leisurely pursuit for almost all of us. Jordan Spieth is on an astronomical trajectory into the record books, and if it’s not #1 for him then the rest of us should take notice and ask ourselves why are we really playing this game.