By Gareth McShea
Senior AimPoint Instructor
If you watched the final round of The Open Championship you witnessed something very rare and very special. Henrik and Phil were gladiatorial in their approach, no quarter asked or given, both understanding only one of them could emerge the victor. It was truly enthralling. From the get-go the quality of their play was astounding, so much so that you felt they would surely falter as things came close to an end.
But nothing gave.
Instead, immersed in the moment, they pushed on to higher and higher levels of performance. Levels of performance that no other player came remotely close to matching on the day. Never mind the Olympics, this was the real deal*. I have no doubt that in this instance both players were “riding each others shirt tails”, feeding off the confidence, the epinephrine, the sheer naked will and desire to be crowned the Champion Golfer of the Year.
However. One thing I am also sure about is this:
They would have been consumed with the process, not the outcome. Had they been chasing a certain outcome, the fluency, the shot making and the holed putts would not have been allowed to appear.
I repeat: Allowed to appear.
If they were attempting to effect an outcome we would have seen haste or hesitancy. Poor decisions being made, attempts to overwhelm the course or the opponent, and these in turn would be characterized by twitchy non-fluid movement. No such thing appeared, not even fleetingly. Both these golfers have spent a lifetime preparing for that round. Years of taking any step they deemed necessary to assist them in their pursuit of the Open Championship.
That desired outcome will have, at times, consumed their lives, motivating them to break through plateaus, set new personal bests and work on their games as if they were possessed. Yet in the heat of battle there was serenity. Because they knew two things:
— They were as well prepared as they could be.
— They could not control the outcome, but they were willing to accept it.
Otherwise they would not have made it there in the first place.
This will be a polar position to the golfers I meet each week. Players who have perhaps never prepared or practiced. Yet each week they tell me about how “unlucky” they were after the latest round. They were on for a PB of 41 points if they had only…… (Insert preferred hard luck story about putts missed here) and they knew it after 13 holes. All attention on the potential outcome. And so another opportunity slips through their hands as they lose sight of the current task at hand.
When you place more importance on the outcome rather than the process I can promise you that whatever the desired outcome was, you will never see it. Henrik and Phil dealt with the process as required. One shot at a time. Playing entirely in the present. Their being in the “present” was a huge gift to us.
I for one am extremely grateful,
*Rory said I could write that