When thinking about the word winning and what it means many players simply look at who won as the only real criteria for what a winner is. He or she won so they’re the “winner”. Well, in this conversation I’ll be talking about what I believe a winner is. I know for certain a winner is much more than a label for the player who finishes in 1st place…

Are you a winner? Do you think like a winner? Do you play like a winner? Think about these comments for a moment or two. A winner has a way of looking at things that is waaaaaaaay different from a loser’s perspective. A so called “bad shot” and the resulting anger that is openly demonstrated by many players is a reflection of a loser’s mindset.

In defense of uncontrolled anger I’ll hear players say “well it shows I care. After all if things didn’t matter why bother playing the game?” Have you ever heard (or said) this before? Now this is absurd, of course, since there are countless players who play with a joy filled, serene calm when playing, should we assume they don’t care and that the game doesn’t matter to them? Obviously not.

The Heart of a Champion

Now we’re getting to the heart of this discussion. A loser (and I don’t mean loser in the popular derogatory sense) is someone who has a mental habit of looking at things in the worst possible light. A bad shot is perceived as devastating and as evidence they won’t be able to shoot a good score.

Their focus tends to notice the bad breaks and not the good ones. The fundamental viewpoint is one of a battle where something is always against them. Their opponents, the golf course, the greens are bad, the group ahead is playing too slow, and on and on.

Now certainly we’ve all had one or several of these thoughts before but I’m talking more about an overall mindset that a loser plays with. Now why do I cal thisn a loser’s mindset? It’s because this mindset is measurably detrimental to performance. It is also a direct killer of joy!

Ok, I’ll give that conversation a break and move onto where we all want to be if we choose to play at our own, personal best more consistently.

Build it On Solid Ground!

A winner’s mindset is built from the ground up. You feel connected to the ground. Centered and balanced. You’re filled with anticipation for each shot and the challenge that it brings. You enjoy the test, both internal and external, that each shot offers you. You look at the conditions of the golf course and the weather as an opportunity to leave the rest of the field in the dust as you know most all of them are whining and already making excuses for why they won’t play good today.

Jack Nicklaus would walk in the locker room after a particularly difficult day (meaning it was very windy and the conditions were affecting everybody) and he would listen to players whine about the conditions. Then he would smile inside and say “this is great, now I only have a handful of players to compete against for the rest of the tournament, these guys have given up.”

I recommend you really begin to look at the game in this new light. Gary Player, when commenting on green speed and quality of the putting surface during tournaments he played would say, “there’s no such thing as bad greens.” Pause for a moment and let this land. He’s saying that you adjust. If you like fast greens, for example, tough luck, they’re jot fast! Now what? Do you give up mentally and are you immediately finding reasons to justify your upcoming poor round?

It’s All About Mental Toughness

I’m being tough on you as a reader as this is how I want your mindset to be: TOUGH. When you are able to break through your own inner resistances around the gamer and all the things you currently feel are necessary for you to shoot good scores you’ll reach a new level. You’ll walk through a door that few players do. It opens to a place where your play transcends those “self imposed” limits.

Now you can be a winner. A winner isn’t merely a player who holds the trophy at the end. No, It is much more than this. A winner is as player who doesn’t quit internally.Doesn’t give up when things don’t meet their particular perspective on how things are “supposed to be”. Thinking things should or shouldn’t be a certain way is delusional and prevents a player from experiencing reality as it is that day.

Embrace everything the game throws at you. Get excited at the challenges. Treat each shot, no mater how it comes off, as exactly the same. You walk to the next one and focus and commit to it. NEVER give up and keep committed until the last putt drops. That’s a real winner.