Webb Simpson won the US Open, and Jordan Speith was the low amateur, but another story during the US Open was 17 year old, Beau Hossler, a 2013 University of Texas signee. He carded 70, 73, and 70 during the first three rounds and actually held the lead for a spell during the 2nd round. He executed shots, made putts, and was very poised both on and off the course.
He began the day in 8th place and still played a good final round in the US Open because it revealed his potential as a complete golfer, but something changed. He had previously stated that his goal was to be low amateur. After the third round his goal changed, he now wanted to win the tournament, I cringed immediately after I heard it. On Sunday, he shot 76 for the final round and finished T-29th.
What is wrong with that goal?
By itself, nothing… Reality showed that he was in contention and Hossler’s comments showed confidence. BUT, because he changed his goal, he changed his focus. His focus changed just enough, that he now entertained winning the event and the processes he had to do to win it.
Think about the purpose of a goal; it is to provide motivation and focus. That’s it, however, if we set too high of a goal, it can hurt our focus and actually make us try too hard. In athletics, trying too hard, rarely, if ever, works.
To elaborate, there are two types of players, those with a goal to HAVE FUN and those that NEED to compete. Either mentality is fine, but the issue is if one-person tries to become like the other. A NEED to compete person can’t switch in the final round to JUST have fun. Likewise, a person whose entire goal is to have fun can’t switch to trying to go low.
Here’s another example: A person whose goal is to make the cut and then plays well, switches to trying to win. It never works because the focus has now changed.
No matter our goal, commit to keeping that same goal and not changing during the actual tournament or event. Changing of the goals in competition works against us.
Lastly, Beau Hossler is good, real good.
“Set your course by the stars, not by the lights of each passing ship.”-Gen Omar Bradley
Dr. Rob Bell is the author of Mental Toughness Training for Golf, an AASP certified Sport Psychology consultant, and caddy on tour. He consults with athletes, coaches, and teams at all levels helping build and enhance their own mental toughness. His website is www.drrobbell.com and you can find him on Twitter @drrobbell