Is Tiger Mentally Tough?

Did my email anger you?

Did you feel threatened?

Did that bring up some old feelings?

or

Did you agree with the statement I made that Tiger Woods is not mentally tough and get a smug feeling?

Or did you have some other reaction?  Either way, I hope you felt something from that.

I received a lot of hate responses after that email. Some people said that I’m an idiot. Others said I was racist. Others said I had no idea what it takes to make it on tour. (I find it fascinating what it takes to get people to feel…something…anything and then respond.)

I pulled those statements I made about Tiger from yesterday’s front page of our local paper and another article I read online.  I didn’t even come up with them. I don’t normally make provocative statements but felt compelled to teach this way today.

…But this is not about me.  This is about you.

I write this blog and the emails in order to teach you something about golf that maybe you’ve never heard elsewhere.  But really, I’ve got a greater purpose for you in doing that. If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I think of golf as a metaphor for life. It’s almost like a religion. There are so many things to learn from playing this game that can be applied to the rest of your life. If you’ve read anything from me, you know that to be the case. You know you aren’t going to get mechanical swing instruction from me. I write about bigger things than that.

You know, I put out content all of the time and get no responses whatsoever. And then when I mention Tiger Woods,  the emotions come out.   Yes, yes, I could have said something about religion or politics to get a reaction but I thought I would stay within the bounds of golf since that’s what we are all doing here.

I sent that email out as it was…on purpose: to get a reaction from you for a powerful lesson and something I’ve been working on the last few years and that’s Emotional Mastery. A few years back, I became totally convinced that this is the key to opening the door to your golf (and life) potential and have been working on it ever since.

So why should you care about emotion and your golf game? Here’s why:

What is it that causes the yips? Emotion

Why does it seem that a 5 foot putt is sometimes harder to make than a 10 foot putt? Emotion

Why do we play well on the front nine and not on the back (or vice versa)? Emotion

Why is it that some golfers seem fired up and do very well when challenged? Emotion

Why is it that you play better on some courses and not on others? Some days and not others? Emotion

I could go on and on about that but you already know all of that.  All pressure is emotion too!

When teaching about emotion, other mental game teachers would just write something like:

“You’ve got to manage your emotions”

or

“Don’t get too high or too low”

“Get in control of your emotions”

When have you ever heard from someone who can tell you HOW to do that?

I, on the other hand, am trying to show you something by experience. In order to do that, you have to actually FEEL something and not just intellectualize it.There are answers and there are solutions to the emotion problem.

When you become aware of and work with your emotions, LIFE and GOLF gets so much easier and you perform better

Here’s some questions you might want to ponder about yourself. You don’t have to answer the questions directly…just absorb it and let your mind go where it needs to go.  The questions themselves will do the work for you and help you to take back control of your emotions. Take your time with each question and see where you need to go with it. I recommend you get yourself in that difficult emotion while doing this…remind my email again and get angry again if that helps.

In order to first make change, we have to aware of what needs to change.

If you got a strong negative reaction from my email:

1. How is it that you could allow a total stranger whom you’ve never met or seen in person cause you that emotion?

2. How does that happen on the course? In business, in your relationships?

3. Where does that emotion begin in your body. Try bringing up that emotion again and see where it starts.  When you become aware of this, you will be able to nip those troubling emotions in the bud BEFORE they become a problem.

4. Ask yourself:  “Why is it that some people would not have a strong reaction like I did”  Follow that up with: “Is that difficult emotion USEFUL to me?

5. Do I want to be a victim of my emotions out on the course or master them?

6. When have I been offended before OFF the course and shrugged it off? How did I do that? Can I do that ON the course just the same?

Now, here’s the big kicker:  7. What is the belief I’m holding that is causing me to have a negative reaction.

I’m sure that the people who wrote to me expressing their anger and hate would say something like:  “What he wrote made me so angry”

But how can I MAKE anyone angry?  I can’t.

NOBODY or NOTHING outside of you can MAKE YOU EMOTIONAL

If you got NO EMOTIONAL REACTION from my statement, you want to ask yourself: “Do I allow myself to FEEL?”  Can I get excited and passionate about golf…or anything?

Some golfers may be missing out on their potential because their true nature is a FEEL golfer yet they’ve shut that system down over the years.  I’ve run into that many times working with male athletes.

Emotional Mastery isn’t just about dealing with difficult emotions. It’s also about creating the fun ones like joy, bliss, pure, flow, etc. All of those emotions and more are what golfers use to describe THE ZONE.

You might be thinking about now: “This is a bunch of garbage. This has nothing to do with golf or my life. All I need to do is work harder  at my game,  practice more and I’ll get better.

And I would have to ask you…”How is that belief useful to your game?”

Tiger’s got some work to do. That’s no secret. He can still develop a type of mental toughness that he doesn’t have right now. That’s also a fact.

My own personal opinion is that the game of golf would be so much better if he were back in contention every week and I want to see that.  He brought excitement and passion into the game and it is sorely missed now.

The first step to mastering your emotions is allowing yourself to feel them.

The next step is to resolve the reason for the emotion and tell yourself that resolution WHILE IN THE EMOTION.

There’s more to this. I’ve developed a 7-step process to Master your emotions.  I’ll tell you more later.

The next time you hear from me, I’ll be giving you some training from a real pro instructor….unlike me.

😉

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Dave - August 15, 2011

I am don’t know why people holler about race when it doesn’t even inter in to what has been said. Tiger DOES have to work on a lot of things coming back and attitude is a big part. And he has to do it by himself, he does not have Dad there to push the right buttons to help him.
DG

    Craig - August 15, 2011

    Dave, thanks for writing and putting your 2 cents in. People holler about such things usually because they “project” outward and onto
    what they think or believe inside.

    Thomas Graves - August 16, 2011

    The comments about Tiger Woods, are just that, comments. They don’t mean anything to anyone, at all. I respect your opinion, as do many others, but as they say, opinions are like assholes, we all have one, and they all stink. Keep lighting the fire under people. I like what you said in your article, and I agree with all that you said in it. Tiger will be fine, and one way or another, he will figure this out.

      Craig - August 16, 2011

      Thomas, when we put Tiger’s problems in perspective, I guess it would not be such a bad life here on the planet to still have untold wealth and the ability to command attention and power. Let’s also not forget that Tiger still contributes a lot of money to charity and underprivileged kids.

Tina - August 15, 2011

I think Tiger is an exceptional talent. However, I think he appears to be a volatile personality & gets too emotional with golf & tries to hit the ball too hard. When I play my best (scoring & hitting) golf it is not so violent. Very calm & almost non-emotional. I feel for him because he has a talent, but I think his family problems caused a great emotional problems. Thanks for your emails.

    Craig - August 15, 2011

    Thanks Tina. Emotional can be useful or non-useful. It all depends on the person and the circumstances. His high emotion used to work for him.
    I’m guessing it doesn’t now. Emotions are not positive or negative. They are just useful or not with respect to your outcome!

Venkat - August 15, 2011

Tiger has forgotten how to get into the “zone” and stay with ‘it’.

    Craig - August 15, 2011

    Hi Venkat, you’re probably right. A lot of mental interference has been created that gets in any golfer’s way out there.

peter byers - August 15, 2011

It is great to see Tiger back, and I am sure most of the tour agrees, he is good for the game in many ways. It is like he is starting again…new coach, new caddy and most likely..new thoughts. A new mental approach…probably. That guy has guts! He could have easily walked away from the game with his millions and enjoyed the acclaim of being one of the best golfers in the world, but he has come back, and I do hope that he can once again astound everyone with his skill and enthusiasm. I believe he can.

    Craig - August 15, 2011

    Way to go Peter! I like your belief. I would love to see him prove me wrong.

Joe-On-The-Net - August 15, 2011

I find it hard to have any reaction to Tiger’s current woes on the golf course as they are the inevitable results of his own personal decisions. He now seems to be suffering the same downward spiral as Mike Tyson. I remember watching Tyson knock out his opponents within minutes of stepping in the ring. Then high living and the trappings of success made him believe he was invincible. Next he is scrambling across a ring looking for his gum shield. From that moment his opponents realized he was only another very fallible human being and his career spiraled downwards. Now Tiger has found that success on the golf course isn’t enough for a happy and fulfilled life. His personal life is a mess and this is now being reflected on the golf course. However unlike Iron Mike he will recover and win again because his golf problems will be resolved when he finally sorts out his private life. I hope this happens soon and he continues to entertain us with his very special talent.

    Craig - August 16, 2011

    Joe,
    I too hope he comes back. His story is worth watching either way.

peter - August 15, 2011

There is no surprise in any of this. When we have work pressures, are stressed or have other distractions it is rare that we play good golf. Being such a static game our state of mind ticks loudly in our head. Even though we need less than 2 seconds concentration for the execution of the shot when stressed we only get half way there ruining any natural tempo. It is usual to see the winner of major tornaments welcomed on the 72nd green by a loving spouse often with a young child in her arms. Happy and Contented – yes! Contrast this to the wishes sometimes conveyed on our way to golf: “Enjoy YOUR game…” Little wonder our equilibrium for golf is disturbed and we play like we should not be on the course. Challenge is obviously how to turn these emotions completely around in such a mental game. Suggestions welcomed.

    Craig - August 16, 2011

    Peter, well said. I will write more on the challenge of our emotions and thoughts. Stay tuned.

Abdullah - August 15, 2011

It used to be when Tiger played you were wondering who was going to come in second. Now it’s how far down he’ll finish – or if he’ll make the cut. That’s a long fall.
All those women he was with, and the way he was managing it, shows some deeper mental and psychological problems. I’m not a psychiatrist, but me, speaking from an African-American perspective, the pressure of being #1 and oftentimes being the only African American out there, may have made him feel a need to conquer those women, which he used to give him a false sense of invincibility, which he used to stay on top. Of course he didn’t care anything about those women; they were just tools. He probably loves his wife.
When you live with a false sense of reality, the bursting ballon brings you down very quickly. However, he does have talent and so I think your assesment of his emotions is right on target.
I’m looking forward to your series on emotion. I need it badly myself (and I’ve only got one woman, (smile)

    Craig - August 16, 2011

    Abdullah,
    Interesting perspectives on why Tiger went for those women. One thing to remember…we all have our own sense of reality. There is no real “True” reality. Everything is relative and the judgement is only about whether our perception of “reality” is useful for us or not….

Les - August 15, 2011

Hi Craig, When I received your email I found myself reasoning with myself and asking how true did I feel your comments were from what I have seen of Tiger since his return. A large part of me agreed but some part had reservations. On reading the above blog, it was as if a sense of enlightenment was opening up and I found myself smiling and nodding. I found the questions really useful and have added them to my training regime. You succeded there.
The enjoyment of golf will be enhanced when Tiger returns to his dominant self and may that be soon. looking forward to your new series.

    Craig - August 16, 2011

    Les, I’m glad you found value in my writing. That’s why I am here on this planet! Stay tuned for more on mastering emotions.

Dave - August 15, 2011

GREAT article! It seems when the woods’ tiger lost integrity with his wife and family, he lost it with himself, as well, and that compromised what was an iron will and fierce competitiveness. Seems the old adage still rings true; “the love of money is the root of all evil”.

    Craig - August 16, 2011

    Dave, I would also like to point out that whatever is going on in your personal life affects your professional (or competitive) life.

M.R. Chmielecki - August 16, 2011

The eventual demise of Tiger Woods was foretold quite some time ago when his career was beginning to blossom. Many veteran tour professionals felt his body would not hold up as the years began to pile up. He was advised by a very insightful sports writer to play to his personality and not try to live up to corporate personna invented to satisfy the coporate media. He is a golfing assasin, not a touchy feely family man. His father did him a disservice by planting the idea in his head that through his golfing greatness he would transform race relations that would open up more and greater recognition of African Americans. In short he was playing the game for everyone else but himself. My own personal opinion is that both his acid personality and his injuries are steroid related. He got very big and cut in his upper body in a short period of time and that isn’t natural.
Regardless of all the opinions offered his talent as a golfer is without question. If any one can return to his former greatness he can. I believe, however, it will require a laser focus on what HIS true goals are. He will then need several tiny confirmations that he is once again on his true path. This will feed the desire which will then allow his former greatness to blossom anew.

    Craig - August 16, 2011

    M.R., Wow! Very insightful. I would be interested to know who that insightful sportswriter is.

Hans Heinrichh Kopp - August 16, 2011

Hi Craig, comments are ok but usefull only for TV, PRINT and RADIO-people. I made my selv my own comments to the momentel problems of Tiger ( and so far also of Martin Kaimer’s) For exampel: i, my self become a kind of hectic nervously condition as soon i’m thinking of a golffellow behind me, who seems to play faster then me, whatfor i should let him pass by, even if there are some other Golfers in front of me, thinking further: has hi recogniset that too ? And suddenly i’m getting bad. What ever happens to Tiger, Kaimer and others right now, it happens to all the Golfers all over the World more or less every now end then. One day i make my 18 points on Nine-round, a nother day (blame my self) only three points. On a golfround we are accompanyd by a kind of sad- and happyness at any time. Regards, H. Kopp

    Craig - August 16, 2011

    Hi Hans,
    Yes, I know exactly what you are saying here. Bottom line is: thoughts lead to emotions. Emotions lead to performance/behavior. All change happens at the unconscious level of the mind. Your awareness of your pattern is half the battle, way to go. The other half is committing to a plan to counteract your old pattern. I’ll keep writing to help you come up with your plan.
    🙂

Fred - August 16, 2011

G’Day Craig,

Read both your articles on Tiger and totally agree with your comments. These days most professional golfers are pampered prima donnas, they have golf coaches, physiotherapists, psychologists and caddies travelling with them in their entourage.

Certainly, some of them have to make some sacrifices befor they get to that stage, like as you say sleeping in the car etc. But once they get beyond that point they lose sight of the true perpective and expect everyone to be there for their convenience..

Mental toughness is about overcoming adversity and I concur with you on that. To me, where golf is concerned the most positive example of this is “Ben Hogan” who overcame a car accident, got back to golf and won tournaments and that is what I consider to be mental toughness. Young players and even some of those seasoned on the golf tours could learn a lot by reading up and following the legacy of Ben Hogan and also many others of the old timers not with us today.

They are the ones who made this great game what it is and it is sad to see how some spoiled brats expect the priviliges being extended to them today and not give anything back in return but temper and tantrums.

Sincerely

Fred

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