Zooming Out on the Tee Box
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of four guest blog posts written by one of my coaching clients. This narrative, written by Ethan Howard, actually inspired me to do this four-part series. After reading this essay that he wrote for his freshmen English class, I asked Ethan if I could share it as a blog post. I also asked my other coaching clients if they would be interested in writing a guest blog post, too. Three of them jumped at the opportunity.
Ethan is a collegiate golfer at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. He graduated from Glen Rose High School in 2022. We started working together before he left for college.
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by Ethan Howard
I’m scrambling. Scrambling to fight for a spot in order to advance to the regional tournament for 2021. I’m five shots back with nine to play, which is doable. Fast forward to my last tee shot of the tournament. My mind is racing, thinking about the shots ahead, thinking about beating him. I did not commit to the last several shots, I was too focused on the future and what it might hold for me instead of what was already provided to me, which was and still is the opportunity for greatness…
Intentionality is defined as a quality of mental states, such as: thoughts, beliefs, desires, and hopes. Drew Myers likes this term because it encompasses everything that a mental coach, life coach, and leadership coach teaches. Drew is a family friend of mine that has been more than willing to work with me and my mental skills, on and off the golf course.
Before beginning my collegiate career, Drew and I would meet once a week in a local coffee shop. A session would typically consist of three areas:
- Talking through what has taken place since our last meeting;
- Evaluating those events, and
- Discussing an action item to implement for the following week.
An action item is something specific to work on before our next meeting. This item could be a goal, a pre-round routine, or even a thought during the round. We would also talk about upcoming tournaments and create a game plan leading up to those.
Drew would also send texts before every round encouraging me to stay in the present and reminding me of the practice and hard work that got me here.
Since working with my intentionality coach, I have found greater peace after bad shots, bad rounds, and bad days. More structure in my day-to-day life, and from shot to shot, makes life and golf easier. This does not mean I never get mad or excited about shots, it simply means I control my emotions. I try to stay neutral. Neutral thinking is exactly what it sounds like, keeping your emotions from climbing too high or descending too low for too long.
In these moments, I’ve learned to blur your mind in order to focus on the task at hand.
Before every shot that I hit, I do three things. First, I say in my mind, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). I then take a deep breath to calm my nerves. Lastly, I tell myself that I am a good golfer, that I have had this shot before, and that I have succeeded at this shot before.
I now have this profound calmness on and off the course. It is almost unexplainable how I feel after every shot. Put it this way: I zoom out. I look at my surroundings and remind myself of my purpose on this planet. I see how small I am compared to my surroundings and as I see everyone else struggling with their day-to-day life while I get to play this sport and live my life which is beyond blessed.
What Drew’s process has given me as a player and as a person is mental stability. Being able to make decisions is easier than ever. Setting measurable goals have become a way of tracking my days and making sure that I am completing a task that serves a purpose to the greater picture. The greater picture for myself is becoming a better-quality human. Moreover, being healthy, transparent to others with my struggles and successes, as well as striving to spread the Good News. Clarity can be hard for some, but it can also give you a better perspective, an outside view on issues in your own life. Openness also creates a trust between me and Drew. I can be honest about what I need to work on and goals that I want to set for myself to succeed without feeling pressured to say the “right thing.” Drew has become less of a coach and more of a mentor. I know I can always rely on him if I need advice about anything.
I set myself up for greatness. I’m not scrambling. I’m playing my game, playing shots I can commit to and shots that I can make.
Flashback to my senior year in high school…
I’ve found my way into the 2022 regional tournament, now fighting for a spot at state. I shoot a decent 79 the first day of the two-day tournament. In doing this, I set myself up for success. Heading into the second round, I’m getting nervous about what it would mean to me to make it to state. My mind is racing thinking about the shots ahead, but this time I do my three steps. I say my verse, I breathe, and I assure myself that I can pull this shot out. I did commit to the last several shots. I was focused on the task at hand instead of several shots in the future and what they might hold for me. I was focused and calm, and I shot a 73. I didn’t make it to state, but I had my best two-day tournament score in my high school career.
As we drove back home, I zoomed out, and I felt accomplished with my hard work and at peace with the outcome.