It would appear that anyone who has ever played in the Ryder Cup agrees that it is probably the most important tournament that they will ever get to play. To play for one’s country, and not just for oneself, is a great honor. Along with that privilege inevitably comes more pressure. You really, REALLY want to win. You hope and pray that you are on your best form and that you perform well as a team member.
It could be said that the European team did not display their best form during the first couple of days at Medinah, apart from a few streaks of brilliance, that is. Ian Poulters run of 5 birdies on Saturday afternoon came just in time to give a badly needed and incredibly powerful boost to European morale. It was in fact perfectly timed to ready the European team to double and redouble their resolve and gritty determination to win.
The Ryder Cup is mentally tough to cope with. I couldn’t help but be aware of the times that the Europeans got booed by the crowds when they hit a great shot or made a good putt. That cannot be a nice experience for anyone. It did occur to me that this unsporting reaction by the crowd might well have inadvertently served to stoke the fires of the Europeans burning desire to win. And win they did, steadily clawing back point by point from a more than daunting deficit.
One of my Californian friends made an observation about European golfers. She said that having just returned from a golf trip to Scotland she did not find it surprising that the Europeans are mentally and physically hardy! Golfers from the UK are used to playing in adverse conditions, albeit usually related to the weather.
I readily admit that these days I fall into category of the “fair weather golfer”. I excuse myself on the grounds that I have put in my fair share of time playing in pretty horrid weather, being buffeted by the wind and drenched by needle like rain hurling itself horizontally at me. I have been there, done that, and am very happy to have traded inclement weathered golf for the undeniable benefits of Californian sunshine.
When the only thing that I knew was UK golf I didn’t really spend time thinking about what a mentally strengthening experience it was to play in these types of weather. But I do now appreciate how it teaches a golfer to focus very tightly upon the task in hand. It also teaches you how to relax under extreme conditions.
You have to acquire these skills to be able to golf in the UK. And then they stand you in good stead for golf in general. Let’s face it, if you can relax, focus and play golf whilst being bludgeoned by 30 mph winds, with freezing cold hands, wearing endless layers of thermal clothing topped off with waterproofs, you can probably deal with most other distractions you proceed to encounter upon a golf course!
Roseanna Leaton, golf addict and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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