If You Can't Own Your Game, Then Get Off the Course

When I turned pro, I suddenly thought that I needed to do everything differently. I was a professional now -- so I thought that meant I had to dress really well wherever I went, present myself in a certain way, and most importantly, do whatever I saw the competition doing. It was this last part that got me in the most trouble.

I completely changed the way I prepared for tournaments. I looked around at the other guys -- the ones who seemed like they knew what they were doing -- and decided that if they were hitting balls on the range, then I probably needed to do the same. If they spent a lot of time chipping and putting, I was right there with them.

Basically this meant that from sun up to sun down, I practiced. I figured that I would succeed simply by doing what everyone else was doing -- but doing more of it. So I was the guy on the driving range who'd be out there at 6 a.m. and then the range guy would come over and say, "Man, we don't open for another hour." I was out there all day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. By the time Thursday rolled around (we play tournaments Thursdays through Sundays), I was exhausted. It got to the point where I was miserable and I hated practicing.

I was not going to last if I kept this up, and figured I would try and get a little help.So I decided to go see a sports psychologist. The first thing he asked me was, "How did you get to be as good as you are today?" That was simple. My short game always needed the most work, so I spent a lot of my time on that. He told me, "OK, other than the fact that you can call yourself a pro, nothing has changed. Your job of getting the ball into the hole as fast as you can hasn't changed."

He was right. Why was I out there killing myself and copying what everybody else was doing to prepare? That's not how I earned my spot on the Nationwide tour. I was caught up in what the other pros were doing and completely lost sight of the fact that I needed to be doing what was best for me.

Of course, this makes a lot of sense now, but at the time it felt like a huge breakthrough. You can't win by focusing on what the competition is doing. And that goes for golf and business. You can only win by owning your own game. So, if I'm going to putt, I'm going to own putting. I can't be concerned with the fact that there are guys that have played on the Tour right beside me.

Right now, I know I'm much better than I was six months ago. But that's the thing about golf: I can always be better. The other day I shot a 60 when I was out golfing with my dad. It was a great round of golf for me -- 12 under par. But as we were walking off the course, he said to me, "As much as that was a great round of golf, you lost three or four shots out there on the green."

I guess you know where I'll be tomorrow.