It’s Not The Shots You Make …

Early this morning (04.11.13) in the town of Augusta, GA, the first tee shots will have been played to commence the battle for the coveted “Green Jacket”, emblematic of the championship of “The Masters”, the first of the four major golf tournaments for 2013. The Masters is the only one of the four (can you name the other three?) that’s played on the same golf course each year, Augusta National. Those who watch the 72 hole event each year on TV, as have I, know each hole as though we were actually present, and one day, I hope to be among the group of spectators, more correctly known as “patrons”.

The plot of land upon which Augusta National Golf Club is situated was a former nursery, which just might explain the beauty of the land, with it’s immaculately manicured fairways, pristine sand in the bunkers and of course the Georgia pines and the azaleas. If St. Andrew’s is the holy grail of golf courses, Augusta National is its cathedral, with participants and patrons alike in awe of the surroundings. The founding father of The Masters was Bobbie Jones (worth the “google”) who set the special tone of the competition from the outset.

The “green jacket” is the optical prize but the real award is a lifetime membership to Augusta National Golf Club. All the members of the club wear their green jacket when they are at the club. Only one person is allowed to take his off the premises and that’s only for one year. That person is the winner of the golf tournament.

There is a locker room set aside for past winners where his green jacket hangs until he’s on the premises. Yes, there is money involved, even though there are a few amateurs who play but the dollar amounts are rarely mentioned on the telecast of the event. There’s something else that’s missing at The Masters that’s present at almost all TV golf tournaments, the blimp, which provides aerial coverage of the proceedings. The members of Augusta will not allow it. Why? Because, believe it or not, the area of Augusta, GA which surrounds the golf course is, well let’s just say, different. Those of you reading this who have been there know that of which I speak!

And about those green jacketed members; all were of the male persuasion until very recently. Augusta has two female members. One is the former Secretary of State for the U.S., Condoleezza Rice. In fact, Phil Mickelson purposefully sought out Ms. Rice for a practice round on Sunday. According to Phil, she’s a phenomenal putter, draining a 40 footer on the 18th hole.

Although most Masters tournaments are dramatic events, last year, on the second playoff hole, Bubba Watson pushed his tee shot into the woods, and I mean INTO the woods. For all the world it looked as though he was toast but his mental toughness and an unbelievable desire to perform in the face of all adversity were summoned to execute a shot that will go down in Masters’ history as one of the greatest ever played. To say he hit a controlled hook out of the trees and onto the green would be a great injustice. On the Internet the day following his victory, someone posted a satellite graphic of the hole with the ball flight of Bubba’s recovery shot in brilliant red, contrasting the green hues of the landscape. To actual see the trajectory of Bubba’s shot leaves you in jaw drop mode. But here’s the interesting part, no one talks about the horrific tee shot that put his ball into the forest, it’s all about that unbelievable shot that followed out of the trees which turned out to be the winning shot. In other words, it’s not the shots you make, it’s about how you deal with the shots you miss!

The same is true for curling! Of course one wants to make as many shots as possible and there will be wonderful shots that turn the tide of the game but over the long haul, it will be what you do following shots that didn’t work out quite they way they were planned that makes the difference between W’s and L’s!

Attitude plays a significant role in this. Some might characterize that as “mental toughness”. I won’t quibble with the terminology but I know how you view the situation after that less than A+ shot, is huge. And of course, your opposition gets to play a shot before you can do anything. While they are playing you can look like someone shot your dog or you can remember Bubba’s example and simply accept the situation in which you played a role and get on with the remedy. It’s always a choice and I’m still perplexed with the athletes and teams who choose the former.

As I write this post it’s Thursday afternoon prior to the pre-event practice day at the 2013 World Senior Curling Championships in Fredericton, NB. The Canadian teams have been on the ice training at the Capital Winter Club for the last two days, but before we start to deliver stones in anger on Saturday, I’ll be sure to remind them that performance is frequently measured by what you do with the shots that are missed, not the ones that are made!