Acceptance @ The Masters
One of the cool things for me was watching Luke Donald's last hole in the final round
n the 20+ years I’ve been watching the US Masters, for me the 2011 championship was one of the most exciting due to the sheer volume of players that had the opportunity to slip the green jacket over their shoulders.

There’s no question that when it comes to sport, life and success, acceptance is a word that gets thrown around quite often, though what does it really mean?  How can learning acceptance help us in our endeavor to overcome certain situations that we face on the golf course and in life? I’d like to share with you a few examples from the recent Masters that illustrate the importance of mental attitude and the learned and somewhat innate ability of some of these players to demonstrate acceptance.  Many tour players have the ability to simply accept the result or situation they are faced with, and move on to focusing on the next shot at hand.  The inability to let go can certainly be detrimental to any round of golf as it opens the door to thought patterns like linking one negative thought to another.  Many times players are unaware that they’re doing this.  What this does is set up a chain of negative thoughts such as, “damn that was a bad swing”, “there’s that pull again”, “my swing feels terrible today”, “I can’t find the clubface”, “I suck at this game”, “I don’t deserve to be out here”, “why do I even play” etc…

The inability to let go can certainly be detrimental to any round of golf…

Learning to break that chain by understanding and accepting the situation is a key ingredient in being able to start fresh on the next shot.  This is what the truly mentally strong already know. They understand that carrying the excess baggage of past shots and situations will do them no good when it comes to making the next play During the second round of the Masters, Geoff Ogilvy proceeded to 4 putt the 2nd green for a double bogey 7, putting him back to 1 under for the tournament.  Years ago, Ogilvy may have reacted quite differently to how he did in this situation.  When asked about his recovery in a post match interview, Ogilvy stated that “at some stage during this tournament your going to make a silly mistake”.  After the double bogey, Ogilvy recovered and proceeded to birdie 6 of the next 13 holes to close with a 69.  In his mind, Ogilvy knew that accepting and not dwelling on the double bogey was the best way to achieve results moving forward.

The look on Donalds face was certainly not one you would have of expected.

One of the cool things for me was watching Luke Donald’s last hole in the final round.  Approaching the last hole and  just one shot back from the leaders he needed a birdie for an opportunity to tie for the lead and potentially win his first major.  Donald was faced with a very difficult stance, having to play a mid iron shot almost on one leg, hanging off the side of the fairway bunker.  Donald proceeded to strike a career shot straight at the pin, literally!  The ball struck the pin and kicked back off the front of the green rolling down the front slope.  The look on Donald’s face was certainly not one you would have expected.  He had a look of acceptance, and went on to play a career chip shot holing out for a birdie 3 and giving himself the best opportunity for a playoff.


So what can we learn from these examples and many like these?  Inevitably in golf something is going to happen that we don’t expect, just like in life things don’t always work out the way we plan.  It may be 4 putting like Ogilvy, a work situation may take a turn for the worse, you may get an unlucky break on the course or play a round of golf you would rather forget.   It’s important to develop the ability to accept the situation you find yourself in and develop some tools to help you deal with them and move on. The technique you employ may be as simple as positive self-talk, or making light of the situation which helps to break the negative thought chain.  Alternatively you may have a quote or 2 written down in your yardage book that helps you to focus and get back on track.  Being able to break the chain of negative thought, and engage in positive self-talk is key, as it assists you to gaining better control of your emotional state.  This will enable you to reset the mental clock if you will, and allow you to be better prepared to face each and every new situation in golf and life with a fresh mind and attitude.

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