All Great Champions are Strong on the Inside- Marcello Recommends: ‘Golf is Not a Game of Perfect’ by Dr. Bob Rotella

The love of dogs, video games, Netflix, alcohol, tattoos, following sports teams, staying up late, skiing, spicy food, and especially— golf.   There are times in my life when it seems like I’m the only one who doesn’t love most, if not all, of the above.

My first (and last) experience playing golf was with a few friends who invited me to join them for a round of 18 holes.  I appreciated the invite and looked forward to the insightful conversation that would come from spending a few hours with some very successful entrepreneurs.

Everything was going swimmingly until I actually had to hit that little white ball.  Up to that point, all I had to do was dress the part, share business strategies, and enjoy the beautiful landscaping on the course. (Easy Peasy).

Unfortunately, when the moment of truth arrived and it was time to swing the club that my friend let me borrow, I spent the next 30 seconds either completely missing the tee or hacking up the unlucky patch of innocent green grass that grew just inches away.  When I finally made contact, my shot went about 1/3 of the distance compared to my friends.  The worst part was that it didn’t even go in the right direction.   My wrists were sore and my ego was bruised.  As a pretty decent athlete, I didn’t anticipate having such an issue making contact and getting the ball where it should go.

After the 3rd hole, my strategy was simple.  I told everyone that if we stopped now, lunch at the club house was on me.  Mercifully, they accepted and we proceeded to have a good laugh about my intro to golf over a delicious meal.  Life was good again.

Over the years I’ve learned that the only thing worse for me than trying to play golf is trying to watch golf on television.  I do enjoy watching the World Cup, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and a UFC title fight, but watching golf for me is kinda like watching a bass fishing tournament or curling.  There’s just not enough action to excite me.  If I wanted to meditate, chill out, or fall asleep, I’d turn on a golf tournament.

So, when my friend, Rob Johnson, recommended this book to me and promised that I would still enjoy it because it wasn’t just about golf, I trusted him and hopped on Amazon.

The good news is that Rob was right.  ‘Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect’ features some really cool psychological insights and behind-the-scenes stories from Dr. Bob Rotella, a well-respected golf coach and mentor to a seemingly endless list of who’s who in the world of golf.  The really good news is that if you actually like golfing, the other half of the book is all about players you should recognize, courses you’d want to play on, and techniques/tips that will help your game.

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the book;


“Though I teach psychology I’ve never known for sure where the mind ends and where the heart, soul, courage, and the human spirit begin. But I do know that it is somewhere in this nexus of mind and spirit, which we call free will, that all great champions find the strength to dream their destinies and to honor their commitments to excellence. All great champions are strong on the inside.”

“A person with great dreams can achieve great things. A person with small dreams, or a person without the confidence to pursue his or her dreams, has consigned himself or herself to a life of frustration and mediocrity.”

“The varsity athletes I played with had almost everything going right in their lives. They were good looking, talented guys. But a lot of them focused on the little things that were wrong with their lives. They wanted to be taller, or they wished their families had more money. In contrast, the disabled kids we worked with focused on what was in their control— their chance to learn to play. And they learned, despite their limitations. It started to hit me that attitude, self-perception, and motivation heavily influenced success in life. I realized that happiness had more to do with what you did with what you had than with what you had.”

“People by and large become what they think about themselves. The idea is so simple that it is easy to dismiss. It’s almost all a person needs to know about how to be happy.”

“One of the things Tom, or any successful pro, does best is accept his bad shots, shrug them off, and concentrate completely on the next one. He has accepted the fact that, as he puts it, ‘Golf is not a game of perfect.’ This does not mean that a pro does not strive to eliminate mistakes from his game. He does, unless he wants to savor the joy of Qualifying School once again. But he understands that while striving for perfection is essential, demanding perfection of himself on the golf course is deadly.”

“Getting angry is one of your options. But if you choose to get angry, you are likely to get tighter.  That’s going to hurt your rhythm and your flow. It will upset you and distract you. It will switch on your analytical mind and your tendency to criticize and analyze anything you do that falls short of perfection.”

“Players plagued by perfectionism and unforgiving expectations would do well to remember the common sense their mothers taught them, or would have taught them if they paid attention. Here’s what Adela Saraceni told her son, Gene Sarazen, about perfectionism and expectations, just after he lost the 1927 U.S. Open by a single shot. ‘Son, everything that happens to you happens for the best. Don’t ever forget that. You can’t win all the time, son.’  Gene Sarazen said this little bit of advice stuck with him and helped him to develop a certain fatalism about his golf that allowed him to accept whatever happened and make the best of it.”

“The inability to forget, (Mark) Twain said, is infinitely more devastating than the inability to remember.”

“He learned what all successful athletes sooner or later learn. Courage is fear turned inside out. It is impossible to be courageous if at first you weren’t afraid.”

“Your plan has to prepare you for all contingencies, so you’re ready for the best happening and for the worst.”

“If you play golf long enough, you are bound to encounter some pressure situations in which you will perform at less than your best. They will help you learn how to cope with pressure, which is a skill that must be learned, and, once learned, constantly maintained.”

“None of us are going to get out of here alive. You might as well have some fun while you are here.”

“On the course, golfers must have the confidence of a champion. But off the course, champions must remember that hey are not more important than anyone else.”

“In sport, the bad news for the present champion is that tomorrow is a new day, when the competition starts again from scratch. But that’s the good news for everyone else.”

To order your copy of Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, click here.


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