Golf Is a Game to Be Played
Bagger Vance's philosophy was that golf is not a game to be won. He told Junah, "Golf is a game to be played". There is a huge difference between playing to win and playing to play.
When you play to win, you create tension and pressure that adversely affects your brain's chemistry and your ability to perform. If you play to play, you are relaxed and give yourself a chance to perform at a much higher level so you can win. However, as true as this is, most golfers continue to get caught up in the outcome and winning, which causes their game to suffer.
In a recent PGA qualifier, the conditions were perfect, except for the slow greens. Some golfers who were use to fast greens had a hard time adjusting to the slow greens. Others who figured out the slow greens were shooting very low scores documented by a 59-course record.
For the first four rounds, the cut off for the 35 PGA cards was 69 each day or 12 under after the first four days. Guess what happened to the scores during the fifth and final rounds, as many of the players' mindsets became super focused on winning a tour card.
You guessed right. After round five, 70 or 14 under was the magic number. After the final round, it moved up to 71 for the final cut off of 15 under to qualify for your PGA card. The same perfect playing conditions existed during those final two rounds, but performances dropped significantly just because finality was fast approaching and players started playing to win.
Golf is a catch 22. If you play to win, you make it very hard on yourself to play well. If you just play to play, youdramatically increase your ability to win the prize. Junah finally wised up and asked Bagger for help.
Ironically, after the first round I checked my email and found a question from a golfer, which clearly helps illustrates Bagger's philosophy.
The answer is stay focused on the process and the results will be there according to your mechanical ability. My guess is that a golfer makes a couple of bad shots and when he didn't get the outcome he wanted or expected, he let negative emotions enter and started pressing or panicking.
As Bagger Vance said - golf is a game to be played.
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