October 24, 2011

The Tale Of Two Putters

This is one of my favorite stories to tell. The story was based on the struggles of an actual PGA Tour player I worked with.


I once knew a putter named Soft Hands. Soft Hands was a great putter, who brimmed with confidence when the ball found bottom of the cup. He had touch, confidence, and fed off momentum.

When Soft Hands made his first putt of the day, he felt like he couldn’t miss all day. He would putt great. If Soft Hands did miss, he knew that the next putt would go in. He would say to himself: “It’s OK to miss one because I know I will make the next one”.

He had a rational side that knew you can’t make them all and didn’t let missing effect his putting or any other part of his game. His good putting helped him relax, which improved the rest of the game. He hit great shots and didn’t worry about mistakes because he knew that the putter would save him. He was happy with golf. In the end, Soft Hands won golf tournaments.

I also knew a putter called Death Grip. Death Grip putted nothing like Soft Hands. When Death Grip missed early in the round, he talked himself into putting poorly all day.

His grip got even tighter. He became more anxious and putted worse. He lost his confidence, touch, and had negative momentum on his side. Death Grip, unlike Soft Hands, had an irrational side to him.

When he missed early, he would say to himself: “Here we go again, putting like shit another day”. He would reinforce this thinking by maintaining irrational thoughts like: “It’s so awful that I can’t putt well all the time, I’ll never be a great golfer.”

Death Grip’s frustration with putting made him make poor decisions, get tense the whole day, and not enjoy golf. His putting frustration filtered into the rest of his game and made him hit poor shots, which heightened his anxiety. He was angry at golf. In the end, Death Grip’s putting caused him to burnout, be depressed, and give up a game he loved.

The ironic part of the story is that Soft Hands and Death Grip where the same putter, living in conflict together, and battling for supremacy. The moral of the story is that humans have two sides to their personality. To succeed and be happy in life, the rational side must prevail.

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