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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Do YOU Have a Feeling?

José María stopped short of that, although he did confess to "believing." Can the European Team really duplicate the 10-6 comeback of the 1999 US Team, but do it on foreign soil?

I'm not sure. For every Ian Poulter there's a Keegan Bradley, albeit with less experience. And experience is the real wildcard here. While Bradley hasn't played Ryder Cup singles before, I disagree with a lot of people about the chances of the US Team's "Bradleys" (if I may use his name as a generic term for the rookies) pulling this off. And I think my reasons may have an impact on your own game, so let me explain them.

Here's the whole crux of the question: Is experience a transferable skill?

In case you've never heard the term, let me explain it. A "transferable skill" is a skill you learn in one discipline that you can easily adapt to a new discipline. For example, the skills required to run a household with several kids -- coordinating schedules, balancing expenses, and all those other routine tasks -- are very similar to the skills used by efficient managers in a corporation. Part of the reason women became a larger part of the executive workforce starting back in the 1980s is that some smart businesspeople realized this. They saw that, if they brought these women in and showed them how to relate the tasks from one environment to the other, many of them rapidly brought a new level of practical organization to the positions.

To listen to many of the pros talk on TV, you'd think that the only way you can learn to deal with pressure is to be a world-class golfer. Au contraire, mon frère! Have you ever dealt with a tough and maybe unexpected situation -- say, a car wreck or a family member who suddenly took sick? Most of us have faced some kind of pressure situation that we weren't prepared for, and we had to find a way to cope. Some of those situations (especially if they involved sick relatives) placed us under serious pressure for a prolonged period of time.

Excuse me, but don't you think a golf match is far less pressure than that? The worst that's going to happen is that you lose the match. If you think that's more pressure than, say, a life-threatening illness, you have bigger problems than you'll find on a golf course! I say that if you can handle the pressures of everyday life, you can figure out how to handle a golf match.

Now... will you figure out how to apply your pressure handling skills correctly the first time? Possibly not. That doesn't mean that you don't have them, just that you don't see the connections clearly enough to understand how to transfer them from one situation to the other. Quite frankly, it may simply mean that you have an unbalanced sense of how important a golf match is. (And, as I said, that's a bigger problem than the golf match.)

So do I have a feeling? Yeah -- I feel that the rookies on both teams will do just fine today. The bigger question is whether the "veterans" can keep their own perspective in place. The young guys (on both sides) aren't particularly worried about what people will say about them.

And -- in your own game -- you'll find you handle golf pressure a lot better if you don't care whether you win or lose. It's just a game, after all... even if you're in Chicago and it's the Ryder Cup.

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