Because nobody is perfect, every athlete experiences highs and lows, wins and losses. What defines an elite athlete is how he or she deals with the lows and fights back after the losses.
Golfers, in particular, often face adversity. “Golf is a game of resiliency,” says PGA Tour pro Zach Johnson, who has 18 professional wins, including the ’07 Masters. “I know I am going to have bad days with the good days. [But] if I continue to trust in my systems, both on and off the course, bouncing back is a lot easier. Trusting in my routines—golf shot routines, training routines and mental routines—will get me through the poor rounds.”
Pre-game for Johnson means having an easy, but focused approach. He says, “I relax before I get to my ball; then I re-focus [and] make my decision on how to hit the next shot. I execute the next shot with no outcome-oriented thoughts. Then I finally react to the shot for a brief moment.”
Staying positive and maintaining focus, no matter what, are keys for every shot. “Remaining positive is imperative,” Johnson says. “An abundant amount of negative thoughts can lead to an abundant amount of negative shots/holes. Thus, always staying in the now and focusing on the shot at hand with a positive approach will get me through the tough times.”
So what happens when a bad shot interrupts the positive flow? “After a bad shot, my first reaction is to briefly assess why it was a bad shot,” Johnson says. “I do not focus very long on the why; I just go through my cycle for the next shot. If I stay in my cycle each shot, good or bad, I am always going through the same process .”
Finally, Johnson advocates concentrating only on aspects of your game you can control. “I try to treat each week the same,” he says. “I really just talk to myself each day on the things I can control…my routines; my tempo/rhythm; my walk on the course; and positive thoughts on how I can embrace difficult situations. Keeping all that fresh in my head allows me to stay in the moment every hole.”