What We Can Learn from Rory: Create Your Personal Scorecard
By Keith Stewart, PGA
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his shot from the eighth tee during a practice round for the 2022 PGA Championship at the Southern Hills on May 18, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/PGA of America)
Rory McIlroy had a spectacular 2022. He finished 2nd, 8th, 8th and 3rd in the 4 Major Championships. He won 3 times including the season ending Tour Championship and took on a very demanding leadership role for the PGA Tour. His mentality is one of the keys to his continuing success.
In 2019, Rory won the PLAYERS Championship. I’ll never forget what he mentioned on Golf Channel following that historic win. He said, “I finally figured out that my score doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define who I am as a player.” Simply put, McIlroy used to feel as if his scorecard that day, week, event was a clear representation of who he was as a golfer. How many times have you had a terrible round of golf and then let that score determine your mood for the rest of the day or next couple days?
I learned a lot from Rory that evening. It’s so important for all of us to control our mood when playing golf. No matter how well you strike the ball, we can approach our round and each shot with a positive attitude. I also don’t believe this is something we can just flip a switch and have happen, so take a moment and read through a couple PGA Coaching keys on how to manage that golf mood.
The first step is probably the hardest. You need to let go of your score. Too many amateurs keep score and let that define their round. The next time you play golf, rather than mark down every single stroke, ask yourself this question after every shot: did I have a positive mindset prior to that shot? (Y/N) When you’re done playing, look at how many “Yeses” you wrote down.
Your score is a result of smart course management and solid ball striking. On that same scorecard, keep track of your on-course decisions. Not every shot has a major choice, but for those that do write down how well that decision worked. By doing this, you will start to make better strategic choices while you play which will ultimately lead to better results.
Building positive momentum in your round should come from hitting good shots. Not every solid strike goes exactly where we want it. How often do you give yourself positive feedback for a well hit ball? The classic example is hitting a great shot too long. Most golfers in this situation beat themselves up. Instead of giving yourself negative feedback just after your brain felt good about the strike, allow yourself to accept the unfortunate result and stay positive.
These three examples are just the start of how we all can create better results by being positive during the process. Golf is a very difficult game, and these opportunities will create fantastic momentum as you play. Quickly, you will be able to build a better outlook and control yourself during the round. Define your play by how much you are enjoying the moment and playing smart. Believe me, the lower scores will soon follow.
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