Robert Garrigus: The answer isn’t always in swing mechanics

The first round of the Travelers Championship is in the books with Bubba Watson comfortably ensconced in first place after a nifty 8-under 62…that included a bogey. How good is this guy playing?

He has a 2-shot lead over a fivesome including Keegan Bradley and Harris English.

And a stroke behind them are eight players including Zach Johnson and Robert Garrigus.

Garrigus is a very interesting character. A religious man of some intelligence, he notably beat a drug addition almost five years ago to go on to become a staple on Tour. His win at the 2010 Disney was his first and only victory and the beginning of his comeback. He needed a win at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic to keep his card and he did. He made over a million dollars a year from that time on including $3.2 million in 2012.  

This year has been pretty disruptive of his best plans. He’s played in 17 events, but only made 7 cuts. He’s only made one cut since the Shell Houston Open in April, a T78 at the Byron Nelson at the end of June.

And then today. What changed? His mental game came together…by not thinking about anything:

Just the mental game. I’ve never been a negative player. I’ve never been negative about my game, but this year it’s been terrible. So I talked with Bob Rotella [the inestimable golf sports psychologist] a little bit.

I’ve never spoken to a sports psychologist because I never thought I needed to, but it really helped me. He just told me I needed to not think about anything and just go out and react and react to target. Because I used to shoot traps and so did my father, as you well know.

So it was kind of nice to hear that and get a different perspective on my golf game because I was kind of lost, and that happens. I just needed to talk to somebody about it, and I sure as heck figured it out today because I was hitting it perfect and making putts and not thinking about anything and just going. It was a lot of fun.

There are a couple of points to be made out of Garrigus’ comments:

  • Being negative about his game was a choice. He could have chosen to have been positive simply by focusing on his certainty that his game would eventually come around. Skulking around in a negative funk creates no opening to a better future, it only keeps you mired in an unsatisfactory present.
  • Players spend years building up their egos so that they can confidently play from that bulletproof psychological place. Some of them might then find it difficult to admit that they could benefit from “a shrink.” It would be to admit that their playing facade was a charade and they were vulnerable after all. All the more reason to be able to come to the understanding of our spiritual essence which is impervious to everything.
  • Garrigus finally realized that there is something in the physical act of getting thoughts transformed into words that shakes things loose and allows you to see them more clearly, especially when you are bouncing these thoughts off a compassionate listener. “I just needed to talk to somebody,” he said. And given this success, he’s highly likely to do it again.

So, chose to be positive, pay attention to what’s happening and seek help when you can’t shift things yourself. Do not make yourself suffer.

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