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MentalRule: Focus on yourself
by Dr. Gregg Steinberg

"No man (or woman) can make you feel inferior without your consent" Eleanor Roosevelt

The human condition is to be concerned about what others think of us. In fact, the number one fear in our culture is public speaking. Most of us get extremely nervous when we have to speak in front of our peers. Our heart rate goes sky high, our head starts to pound, and at times, some of us will forget everything we had prepared. All this nervousness stems from our concern about the impression we give to others. Our greatest fear is to stand in front of others and look like a fool.

Unfortunately this concern about how others think carries over into our golf game and can ruin our play. The story of Ian Baker-Finch's career illustrates this point exceptionally well. Baker-Finch won the British Open in 1991, but within seven years of his victory had retired from professional golf. Many factors contributed to this decision, one being his humiliating open round of 92 at the British Open at Troon and another being his missed 32 straight cuts on the tournament trail. However, Baker-Finch mentioned that the main straw that caused him to leave the tour was the pressure of what everyone was thinking about his poor play. Poignantly, he stated "What I would like to be able to do is to change my name, come back in a different body and go play without the pressure of being Ian Baker-Finch."

Another similar story involves Hale Irwin playing with a young green horn named Mark O' Meara, On this day, O'Meara was playing terribly and was ashamed about how bad he was playing in front of his older more seasoned pros. After the round, he went up to Hale Irwin and apologized for his bad play. Irwin flat out stated that he did not give a damn how his playing partners shoot, he was only concerned about his own play.

Next time you step on the golf course, be like Hale. Focus only on yourself. Do not worry about what other people are thinking because I guarantee your friends are not worried about you, your score, or your herky-jerky swing. They are doing what you should do. They are thinking only about themselves and how fantastic they look in their new golf sweater.

Copyright Dr. Gregg Steinberg. All rights reserved.

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