The thoughts the teacher, golf or otherwise, is holding as true affect the student directly. We’ve heard the stories about the school teachers who thought the student IQs were very high but those numbers were actually their locker numbers. The students excelled and then the teacher found out the students were really the not-so-bright ones.
How I perceive my students is important to the students. If I see you as a par golfer that is exactly what you are to me and to you. With this perception, you do not have a distance to travel to shoot par, you simply need to realize the truth about yourself. Even if you have never played golf, have never broken 100, or never even made a par, you are a par golfer in my eyes NOW. When it is as clear to you as it is to me, you will shooting par.
If I see you as a poor golfer trying to improve, it is almost impossible for me to help you because I have locked you in as a poor golfer in my thinking and therefore in your thinking. With that as the foundation of our thinking, there is a huge, deep chasm that needs to be traversed to par golfer status and it will take great effort and time from both of us.
This truth was not always visible to me, but it is now. I know how important it is.
Are You There Yet?
ALL of my students are par golfers……in my eyes. If I didn't view you that way, how could I help you achieve your goal of being a par golfer? If I saw you as a double-bogey golfer would I actually be able to help you shoot pars? I must see you not just as having the potential to be a par golfer, but actually being a par golfer right now. You may be shooting in the low 100's, but in my eyes you are a par golfer. The reality is that your thinking just hasn't caught up with me (or the truth) yet.
You don't think of yourself as a par golfer because you are currently making double bogeys. “How can I think of myself as a par golfer when I haven't broken 90?" you may utter to yourself at this moment. What comes first, the pars or thinking that you can make pars? If you allow your current scoring ability to control your view of yourself as a golfer, you will never be able to improve. You will stay at the level you have set for yourself. Your ability to score is an expression of your perception of yourself as a golfer. You will only occasionally score lower or higher than your pre-conceived scoring parameters.
If this sounds a little far-fetched, think back to some of the things you have accomplished in your life. You may have your own business. If so, didn’t you have a clear vision in your mind before you even started the business? You may have adjusted along the way, but in your mind you were at the finish line before you began. What about smaller things like building a table, painting a picture, or writing a paper? Weren't all of these projects successfully achieved in your mind before you started the project? It's the same with quitting smoking, dieting, or getting rich. If you're not there in your mind before you start, you'll never get there.
Golf is no different. To be able to get where you want to go, you must be there in your mind before you start. If you are not already there in your own mind, a chasm exists between you and your goal - a chasm you will be unable to cross. It is unattainable to you. It's a “would-be-nice-to have" thing, but not a realistic goal.
For many years I saw myself as a PGA Tour Player. I wasn't playing on the Tour and I wasn't good enough to play on the Tour, but in my own mind I was on the Tour. In fact, while I was an assistant professional at the Philadelphia Country Club and preparing to qualify for the Tour, I would play golf by myself in the early evenings. I didn't just play golf, I had a contest. I was playing against Nicklaus, Palmer and Player. I had to beat their best ball. True, I was hitting all the shots, but they had three shots to my one shot. I had to be very good to just tie them. In my own thinking I was competing with them on the Tour. I was a Tour Player.
It’s interesting how these preconceived goals work out. My first PGA Tour event was the Kemper Open in Charlotte, NC. I walked into the locker room on Tuesday and there stood Arnold Palmer. I was competing with Arnold - this time in real life! In fact, while playing on the Tour, I played with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
I am not talking about just visualizing yourself as a par golfer. What I am saying is that you must accept the truth that you are a par golfer NOW, even though the evidence doesn’t seem to support your position. The other side of the coin is just wanting to be a par golfer. That’s a lukewarm desire at best. Lots of golfers fit into this category. They buy the latest clubs, the longest balls, the most recent book and listen to all the swing tips anyone offers. I've even heard a few willing to sell their soul to the devil for pars. It seems that when we want something in this way, we’re almost making a statement that achieving that goal is really not possible. It pushes the goal to the fringes of possibility, almost making it go away from us. It doesn't evade us, but it does make the “getting" very laborious.
Most golfers assume that if they will hit lots of practice balls, take a few lessons and play lots of golf (the “do”) that they will deserve a good swing and a good game (the “have”) and become a good golfer (the “be”). In reality, life works differently than that. The “be” must come first, then the “do”, and then as a result the “have” will come. The model is “be-do-have”. It is not the “do-have-be” model as we have been led to believe. You act (do) as you see yourself being now. As you see yourself as a par golfer now, you will act and do what a par golfer does. You will experience what you have always had in your own mind.
I ask the Concept Golf School students to begin a simple exercise when they return to their home course. The objective of this exercise is to record a par or better on each of the eighteen holes. To that end, students are asked to record their pars each time they play on a separate scorecard. When they have completed the exercise and recorded a par or better on each hole, they begin with a new scorecard. This helps them realize that they really are par golfers. You can start this exercise today!
Begin the process of becoming a par golfer by being a par golfer now and letting the changes appear or take place. Conditions will conform to your perspective. I see you as a par golfer. Join me!
John Toepel is a Veteran PGA Tour Player, instructor, author, and professional speaker. He is also the discoverer of Concept Golf, the quickest way to immediate, life-long lasting improvements to anyone's golf game. To learn more about Concept Golf, including the most comprehensive golf instruction system ever, “The Concept Golf Perfect Shot Making System", please visit http://www.conceptgolf.com/PSMS.htm and Discover the Par Golfer in You!