By Don Kelbick
I had some thoughts while watching Tiger in the U. S. Open and how it can help with basketball. I think that more than any other sport, golfers have to deal with more mental aspects than anyone. I love to compare the mental aspect of golf with what is necessary to be a good basketball player.
For my money, Tiger Woods is the best player ever in any sport and also the most influential. You can talk about others but I don’t remember anyone raising the baskets because of Michael Jordan or the fences getting longer because of Barry Bonds. I am aware of golf courses trying to become “Tiger proof” by adding length, hazards, etc. as a result of the way Tiger plays the course. The PGA Tour now has a traveling gym so players can work out and the players travel with personal trainers, all in an attempt to keep up. We weekend golfers feel that effect as well. High compression balls, 460 cc drivers, titanium shafts with high torque and stiff tips, etc. are all “Tiger effects” to help us think we play the same game as he does.
Talent and skill aside, Tiger shows 2 things that set him apart from other players:
1. He shows no fear and lives in the moment. Each shot is a game unto itself. If he hits a good shot or bad shot, it has no effect on his next shot. If he tries to play a draw off the tee and it turns into a hook that winds up three fairways over, it will not deter him from hitting a draw the next time the shot calls for one. If he hits a bad shot (and there are plenty of them) he does not think about what he did to get there. He only thinks about the next shot and what he needs to do to get to where he wants to be.
2. He understands what he can control. Of his putt on 18 on Sunday to tie the tournament he said, “The grass was uneven and I wasn’t sure of the break. The only thing I can control is to make a solid and true stroke. I do that, if it goes in or not, I can live with it.”
Compare that thought process to basketball players who turn the ball over or miss a few shots in a row. Sports is an exercise in failure, if you play – you will fail. Your success is determined by how you handle it when situations don’t go right.
By the way, the best golfer ever, Tiger Woods, loses about 75% of the tournaments he plays in.