Motivation for golf.... its in your DNA
Phil Michelson wins 2018 WGC Mexico Championship
Poorly constructed motivation
I diarised my practise during 2015. All through the period when I was trying very hard to improve.
By nature I am analytical, so I recorded a lot of detail regarding how I felt and performed during that time. I noted how certain swing keys affected my striking, and found that none gave me the consistency that I was looking for or expected.
There were so many insights that turned out to be a bluff, so many moments when I would say to myself, ‘that’s my swing, I've got it now’…. and each time, found out that I hadn’t.
I watch a lot of televised golf, and have begun to have a new appreciation for all the players.
At amateur level, often it’s a frustrating game, but there isn’t that much on the line, except for a bit of a sulk when things don’t go well. For professionals who have lost some of their ability, it must really affect them.
Recently Tiger Woods returned to competitive golf, after 3 years with back issues. If his first few tournaments are anything to go by, he is already at a level where he can compete and win again.
Some people have something special about them, and he is one of them. The crowd numbers at the events where he competes, have gone through the roof. There are 10+ people deep lining the fairways on the holes he is playing and if he is in contention, you can more than double that number. It seems the common man knows instinctively, when he is in the company of the exceptional.
On the emotional plane, can you imagine the feelings that Tiger Woods would have had, through his period of poor health. Every day, he must have been anguishing about whether he would function properly again, let alone be able to play and compete. I try not to forget, there is a human being behind the golfers I see every week on the TV.
Over the years there have been so many golfers who have hit the summit of the game, only to fall away, and I have often tried to make sense of why that is. I guess the complexity of emotions, and the life circumstances that players face, make any answer merely one of guesswork.
All I can come up with are scant similarities as to why my motivations fluctuate.
This brought me to the question of what is the motivation that drives a person on to continue to exert effort for a goal, or a cause, beyond the limits of most people ?
In a previous post I mentioned how once I had reached my goal of playing sub par at my home course, I just felt down. I didn’t get the buzz of accomplishment that I expected. Maybe that’s just the way I am made.
This randomly lead me to 'The story of a David Duval', who was Tiger Woods only serious rival when he was at his best around 2000. The story tells how he changed after a win in the Open of 2001.
Of course the grandeur of his career and win cant be compared to me beating par, but the emotion it triggered and the motivational disintegration is the same.
The only conclusion I could make was that. My motivation was not constructed in a way that allowed me to continue on, and keep trying to improve.
If I had a goal of collectively being under par for a series of rounds, I might still be working away at it now.....but no, I fixed my sight on just beating par on one round of golf.
My own limitations became starkly exposed.
I wonder if he himself had a dream of winning a Major, and the realisation of that dream affected him in a negative way. Only he might know.
He was affected by the circumstances of that win, in a negative way.
The collapse of Jordan Spieth at the 12th hole on that Sunday at Augusta was unexpected, and maybe deep down Willet knows that without that huge slice of good fortune, a second Masters jacket would be sitting in Spieths wardrobe instead of it being in his.
Its often said that some players ‘back into’ a tournament win.
It appears that there is a specific foundation, which motivation needs to be built on.
Motivation (goal, aim) needs to remain progressive. If it isn't, once the success is achieved it triggers deflation. The person alters inside.
More than motivation is lost
His brain changed! The thoughts streaming through it changed. These new experiences altered the chemistry. The robustness of his constitution was damaged, and a set of negative neural pathways developed.
He could no longer feast on his invincibility.
The motivation that got him to the top, evaporated after that defeat.
I glance into the soul of Mike Tyson, would reveal a fragile motivational structure. Boxing fulfilled many of his needs, fame, money, adulation. Boxing was but a a means to an end rather than an end in itself.
Dopamine affects your willingness to work
Motivation depends on circumstances as well
Compare this to a person like Phil Michelson, he is 47 years old, and has just won the WGC Tournament in Mexico and has been PGA Touring pro for 27 odd years, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest golfers who ever lived, and although he wont win a record number of Major Championships, a Grand Slam will be his if he gets a US Open title win.
Michelson has more millions than he can ever spend, but every time I see him in interviews, he is realistically upbeat about the shape his game is in. Enthusiasm shines in his eyes, his animation about the state of his game and his constant search for, and expectation of improvement, belies the fact that he loses so many more times than he ever wins.
Maybe there is a meaningful lesson to be gleaned from these comparisons.
If a person isn’t wired in a way that compels them to continue to strive, their motivation wanes. If bad results, bad luck, ill health, changing priorities or father time alters their constitution, then motivation suffers. If their dreams aren't important enough to compel them to push through adversity, or if a person selects comfort over suffering, motivation bleeds out.
Brain chemistry is altered by experience, and the individual becomes someone different because of it.
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