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A Little Winning Fuel: Developing the Proper Mindset

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Whether it was the Chevron or the Valero, we saw some pretty great first-time winners achieve their dream this weekend. Throw in a teenager winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday and it was one fantastic weekend of tournament golf. 
JJ Spaun is the 9th first time winner this year on the PGA Tour in 24 events. Jennifer Kupcho is the 4th in 7 LPGA tournaments. If first time winners are an early theme for 2022, how do these rookie winners pull it off. In both cases this weekend, we saw some great examples everyone can learn from when we pursue our own first competitive or friendly win. 

In watching both victories, each player had their positive and not so positive moments in the final round. Spaun started his day with a double bogey. Kupcho had four bogeys on her back nine. As those moments took place, you could see both players recognize the mistake and move on. 
That’s the key we can all learn from. If you are playing well, that’s the standard. Don’t believe for a second that a mistake suddenly defines your day. Winners have a short memory and a very positive perspective. If you struggle closing out important rounds, start believing your best holes define you. Then carry a short memory to deal with those bad ones and you’ll be better prepared to grab that trophy.
Jennifer and JJ had a game plan. You could see them execute it all day long. When faced with adversity, an amateur's first impulse is to ditch the plan and go into survival mode. Golf’s hard enough trying to do one thing and now you want to try another. 
Important rounds will always be pressured packed. Understand, the strategy you designed is an ally and will help you through some of the turmoil. Similar to sticking with your pre-shot routine, a solid game plan is a winner’s best friend down the stretch when the mind wanders and the game follows. 

The last PGA Coaching point to help you cross the finish line in first place is to make sure you associate yourself with winning. We all easily relate ourselves to bad golf, but seldom do we connect ourselves to fellow champions. Somebody has to win and why not have it be you? Many times, we don’t view ourselves as part of that special group. 
By starting to acquaint yourself with winning, you will feel less like you can’t. Those who win get themselves comfortable with the thought of being a winner. Simply seeing yourself hold the trophy or having your name on a wall is a great start. Sounds silly, but after you try it, you’ll soon realize how important your personal perception is. 

13 first-time winners in 31 events. The self-belief we need to be the next first-time winner isn’t as unattainable as you might think. Just as you practice your iron game, develop a better mindset as well. Use the tactics laid out above and start setting a new standard for yourself. If you do, you certainly won’t be the only one seeing yourself with a trophy in your hands.