Choke vs. Chuck

Golf Today Northwest - - Front Page - By EL­LIOTT WAKS­MAN

In life there are no ab­so­lute guar­an­tees. There are, how­ever, con­trol­lable steps to bet­ter set our­selves up for suc­cess. The men­tal game in golf is no dif­fer­ent. In this month’s guest ar­ti­cle, I out­line two golf part­ners, Choke and Chuck, to re­mind us of all the con­trol­lable steps we can take on the course to be bet­ter set up for suc­cess. Hey Chuck, old buddy, tee time is set for 10:15 AM Sun­day. I’ll meet ya there okay? Chuck ar­rives to the course plenty early. He is well rested, well hy­drated, and fo­cused. Last night, Chuck vi­su­al­ized his men­tal high­light reel from this course, en­vi­sion­ing all the gutsy chip shots and di­aled in putts he has sunk over the spring sea­son. His shoul­ders and head are held high, body lan­guage scream­ing con­fi­dence. Choke shuf­fles onto the course hung over and fraz­zled with thoughts of next week’s work trip blind­ing his fo­cus. He shud­ders at the mem­ory of yes­ter­day’s aw­ful drive from this same tee box, for­get­ting how one drive is merely a

snap­shot of an en­tire ath­letic ca­reer. Un­able to take a mo­ment to re­group, Choke for­gets to ex­e­cute his pre-shot rou­tine and rushes over to ad­dress his ball. Hey Chuck, what score do you have this morn­ing? I’m try­ing to do the math on what I have to shoot this last stretch here. Chuck con­fi­dently glances down at his notes, which track his process goals for to­day’s round. To bat­tle the in­cli­na­tion to feel over­whelmed with a long round, he cre­ates a check­list of goals, which lead to suc­cess. Chuck’s con­fi­dence and self-sat­is­fac­tion build as he as­sesses his more man­age­able tar­gets, such as fair­way per­cent­age, num­ber of two putts, and amount of wellex­e­cuted pre-shot rou­tines. Rather than get­ting hung up on fu­ture what-ifs, these process goals keep Chuck fo­cused on the present mo­ment. Choke be­gins count­ing on his fin­gers, do­ing the what-if math, play­ing out the next few holes. His mind won­ders. He fo­cuses on out­come, rather than the process, which causes him to be obliv­i­ous to his clenched fists and rushed rhythm. Af­ter a few mo­ments, Choke is com­pletely flus­tered and now in to­tal doubt. Need­less to say, Choke has no shot of com­pet­ing with Chuck to­day. Keep in mind, noth­ing above de­scribes the phys­i­cal strength of either player. The phys­i­cal com­po­nent does not mat­ter in this ex­am­ple. Again, we all know who was suc­cess­ful. Likely our big­gest take­away should be to con­trol the con­trol­lable. Peo­ple who con­sis­tently ex­e­cute the con­trol­lable steps, like Chuck did, make it to the next level. And maybe more im­por­tantly, en­joy the jour­ney more. Choke vs. Chuck. Who do you want to be?

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