Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Betsy King Talks About Perspective

Sometimes it's hard to find material written by female golfers. I know the stuff has been written, because I find references to their books in other books, but I can only assume that the books either didn't sell well or are by golfers who no longer play. That's making it a bit difficult to find some decent quotes for my "Talks About" posts this month. (Yes, I have Annika's book. I just haven't decided on which quote to use.)

One book many people might overlook is The Way of an Eagle, which was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and examined the Christian beliefs of some of the golfers of the mid-1990s. The book is actually a mix of inspirational and practical thoughts on golf, and (important for this series) has the advantage of being in the players' own words.

I was drawn to the chapter on Betsy King, who has always maintained a fairly low profile despite winning so many tournaments, including 6 majors. Ironically, while each chapter concludes with a "tip" section, I found Betsy's most interesting thought in the main interview:
Sometimes when you're looking in from the outside, you think that if a player doesn't win on the Tour, then they have no reason to stay out here. When everybody first comes out, they think, Oh, I'm going to win. If I don't win in the first year, I'm not successful. By the time I finally won, I was thinking, Well, I might never win out here. But I'm still going to make a nice living and I'm still going to stay out here and work to be the best player I can be, whatever that is.

And as soon as I decided that, I started winning. (p.112)
That isn't what you hear on TV week after week, is it? The guys and gals who make up the vast, non-winning majority of players on the tours are routinely put down for just trying to make a living playing a game they love. Hell, you don't even hear one of these players called a "journeyman" anymore unless they win! But Betsy decided not to judge herself by that yardstick. Instead, she decided that she would just work to be the best player she could become... and that decision gave her the freedom to play the best she could.

In her case, that meant she started to win.

Not everybody would have that result; it's the nature of the game that one player wins and the vast unwashed masses lose. (No offense meant to the vast unwashed masses, of course; they're my homies!) But pressuring yourself to get results that you can't completely control is emotional suicide. I could play the best golf of my life, yet someone else (or ten or a hundred someone elses) could also play their best... and beat me like a drum. But my best is still "my best"... and no one can take that away from me.

So take a tip from Betsy King: Ignore the TV commentators with their "winning is all that matters" talk. Add some perspective to your game, and you just may find yourself playing at a higher level.

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