Eye On The Tour is about to grow a little bit in stature. I have spent the last two weeks working through the process with the PGA Tour of obtaining media credentials for two, big-time professional golf tournaments.
The first is the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale here in Scottsdale, Arizona, whose week begins this Monday. This will be a great one for me to begin with because I’ve attended the tournament twice and I know the lay of the land. The other nice thing about it is that I don’t have to travel, it’s less than a half hour from me.
The second is the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship at the Ritz-Carlton GC, Dove Mountain, Marana (Tucson), Arizona, and their week begins the last week in February. This is a very important tournament for two reasons: (1) it is the only Tour event played in a match play format rather than the routine stroke play format and (2) it is only open to the top 64 players in the world, so everybody of any significance in professional golf will be there from all around the world. I do have to travel for this one but it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive. Poor me.
And if these two go well, I plan to ask for credentials for the new LPGA event coming to Phoenix in March.
I will be attempting to interview players about mastery: what principles they follow (who do they read, work with, listen to), what their ratio of practice to playing practice is, how often they work with their coach, what’s their mindset when they practice, for how long, what’s their mindset when they play in a tournament, how do they manage their minds when it drifts in competition, etc.?
I think I’m definitely on the right track with this because, aside from this being the principal interest of this blog, there’s a really nice piece I discovered just today at usatoday.com by Steve DiMeglio, “For Tiger Woods, Others, Golf is All Head Game.”
He begins by quoting Hall of Famer, Ben Hogan:
…the narrowest fairway [is] between the ears.
And then he delves into the myriad of problems in Tiger Woods life the last year and a half and how Tiger now sees his way back to the top:
…[It] begins with his psyche. [Tiger’s] nod to the mental part of the game is shared by many in the golf world, where a cottage industry has bloomed with sports psychologists who examine fears, frustrations and doubts that reside in a player’s mind.
He includes thoughts by NBA great, Jerry West, who speaks about the different psychology between team sports and individual sports like golf.
And that led nicely into a couple of paragraphs from LPGA star player, Christie Kerr, who goes into some detail about how she was able to control her anger by working with Joe Parent, the best-selling author of Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game. As luck would have it, that book just landed on my coffee table a month ago. Time to cram for the weekend!
And finally, in addition to Jerry West, DiMeglio also adds thoughts and ideas from Major League Baseball’s, Greg Maddux, fresh from his stint in the Bob Hope Classic pro-am, where he contrasted the delicacy of the golf environment compared to the raucous environment of a baseball game. Interesting stuff.
Anyway, aside from my own instincts about the pertinence of these conversations about mastery, along comes an article like this that ratifies my thinking and emboldens me to attempt to lead obliging Tour players in these conversations. It’s a great article. Read the whole thing.
And if you’ve never attended a PGA Tour event, you have to go. First of all, the preparation of the venue is amazing. I remember walking onto the Olympic Club in San Francisco that had been set up for the 1987 US Open. The place looked like a shrine. And then there’s all the engineering brilliance that goes into safely constructing massive grandstands that look to have been there forever.
But that’s just the cosmetics, the ambiance. It’s watching the players hitting balls that is the most mesmerizing, the thing that lingers in your mind. Watching them on television gives a sense of their talent, but you really can’t appreciate their length and consistency until you see them in person. Give yourself a treat and go at least once.
If any of you have questions or areas of mastery that you’d like me to explore with the players, send them along in a comment and I’ll do my best ask them. This will also serve as fair warning that I have no idea how my posting schedule will be affected by all of this next week, but I’ll also do my best to keep the tempo up. Wish me luck!