Following last week’s Masters Tournament meltdown by Jordan Spieth I thought it would be an appropriate time to post my book review of Don’t Choke – A Champion’s Guide to Winning Under Pressure, by Gary Player.
About Gary Player
First, let’s do a little quick history about Gary Player, which will show us that the man knows what he’s talking about.
From Johannesburg, South Africa, Gary Player won a total of nine major championships in golf, fourth all time. He is one of the few players to hold all four major championship trophies, known as the “Grand Slam.” Not even Arnold Palmer achieved this. Mind you, Gary’s success was during a time when some of the game’s greatest players were at their best, like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros, and more. Player won 18 majors counting the nine he won on the Champions (Senior) Tour. Gary Player knows how to win.
Player has carried his winning ways to the business world, running a successful golf course design company which has built hundreds of golf courses. Other areas Player has excelled in include real estate, marketing, and fitness. Perhaps best of all is the 30+ years Player has put into giving back through charity work and the Player Foundation, whose mission is to “provide quality education for underprivileged children and strengthen impoverished communities plagued by disease and crime.”
Gary takes us through a quick tour of his major golf championships in sequential fashion. He covers his preparation, lessons learned, mistakes made, and how to parlay all of those experiences into building up the don’t choke mentality. Though golf is how Gary tells the reader how to succeed, but the book is not necessarily about golf.
Most Positive Golfer EVER
Gary Player must be the most energetic and positive golfer to ever grace our planet. He’s so passionate about success and being positive. He always has something positive to say, and shares his valuable knowledge of success. You can feel his energy. It’s vibrant.
Gary always looks at the positive in situations. If there’s a fairway left and a lake to the right, Gary would tell you to focus on the positive telling yourself, “I’m going to split that wide fairway.” He would not recommend you focus on the lake by telling yourself “don’t go on the lake.” This is what makes the title of the book a little ironic to me. Saying “Don’t Choke” is like focusing on the lake instead of the fairway. Of course, the title is an attention grabber, so I get it.
The Secret to Gary Player’s Success
There is no secret to Gary Player’s success. Player worked harder and more tenaciously than his opponents and kept a positive, winning attitude.
Can I Translate This To My Own Success?
So I’ve finished Gary’s book and tried to absorb as much of his positive vibe as I can. I hope to apply this attitude in my future golf and business experiences. I hope this book helps give me the strength and courage to not choke on that 3-foot-putt on the 18th hole to win that $2.00 nassau. That’s pressure.
Gary Player Interview
I had the great pleasure of speaking with Mr. Player for an extended period of time in an interview about fitness. It was truly one of the highlights of this modest, independent blog’s 11+ years. Hope you enjoy it.
Now that I’ve confirmed the pending third HOG World Tour trip to St Andrews, Scotland, I can’t help having Scotland on my mind. It is a magical place. Sadly 99.999% of the courses in the United States do not play like true scottish links courses. Scottish golf is a natural, hard style of golf I far prefer to the overly-soft, over-watered, too green, over-manicured courses here in the USA.
One thing most golfers who have not been to there don’t realize is that there are a ton of courses in the town of St Andrews, not just the Old Course. That’s why I’m always giving people grief when they refer to the Old Course as St Andrews. “Hey have you played St Andrews?” they ask. I say, “which course?” St Andrews is the name of the town, not the course(s). In the town itself the other courses besides the Old Course include the New Course, Jubilee Course, Eden Course, Strathtyrum Course, The Dukes, and the Balgove Course. All but the Balgove are within walking distance. In a few minutes by car one can find even more courses: Castle Course, Torrance Course, Kittocks Course, Saint Andrews Bay Course, and Kingsbarns Golf Links.
The closest course to the Old Course is the New Course. While the Old Course dates back to around 1400, the “New” Course opened in 1895. Yeah, that’s “new” alright. The New is literally next to the Old. You can miss a fairway on the Old and the ball may end up on the New, and vice versa. I don’t recommend that though, because the New is out of bounds if you are on the Old and vice versa.
New Course Overview
Old Tom Morris is the architect of the New Course. The new is a par-71 course which tips out a 6,625 yards, short by modern standards. The new has many very similar designs and feels as the Old does, but is a little more straightforward and less quirky.
The course rating is 72.8 with a slope of 127 from the tips. For those of you in the UK, the standard scratch score (SSS) is 73. The rating would make the New just a tiny bit tougher than it’s next door neighbor, the Old.
From the tee, the new presents some great challenges. The course can be a wee bit (as they say in Scotland) tight. Errant tee shots will be penalized by bunkers, deep rough and in the worst case, gorse. If you don’t know what gorse is count yourself lucky. Gorse is a very nasty dark green bush with thorns which feasts on a strict diet of golf balls and the occasional golfer. Going into the gorse after a ball is usually not a good idea, unless you like scratching the hell out of yourself and ripping your fine golf apparel to shreds.
Some tee shots can be intimidating
Given the shorter nature of this course and the typical hard ground, driver is not necessary on many of the par-4 or even par-5 holes. The longest par-5 is 518 yards. Once again, distance isn’t the most important part of the tee shot at the New. Accuracy is.
The fairways can be tight on the New Course, but fairly flat in most places. If the golfer has managed to avoid the pitfalls mentioned in the tee description, the approach from the fairway is fairly straightforward.
Left rough approach on the 18th hole
If the golfer misses the fairway but avoids bunkers and gorse, the rough can be very thick and inconsistent. Difficult lies in the rough may be tempting for the golfer to hit the hero shot, but it is often wise to be more conservative and get the ball back into play.
The greens at the New are quite different than the Old. They’re considerably smaller and less undulating but still guarded well via bunkering and adjoining gorse and rough areas.
Because of the smaller greens, the hard ground, and the ways the greens are protected by bunkering or natural obstacles, I find the greens at the New fairly hard to hit. This puts a premium on short game. A green reached in regulation is not an overly difficult two-putt proposition like the gigantic greens on the Old.
The St Andrews Links Clubhouse is a very spacious and large facility featuring the pro shop, Swilcan Restaurant and lockers with showers. I’ve enjoyed a few meals in the Swilcan Restaurant and knocked back some refreshing beverages while overlooking the 18th green. Such a great spot.
St Andrews Links Clubhouse
Next to the clubhouse is a nice practice green for getting the feel and working on short game. There is no driving range. The nearest range is a bit of a walk or very short drive to the St Andrews Links Golf Academy.
The St Andrews Links Trust sells a few different great golf packages. I highly recommend purchasing a three-day or seven-day “ticket.” These packages allow the golfer to play unlimited golf in either three days or seven days on the six Links Trust courses other than the Old. In the middle of the summer there is so much daylight that a hardcore golfer could literally play 3-4 rounds in ONE DAY. I’ve done the 3-day twice now and loved it. In one day I played 18 on the the Jubilee, 18 on the New, and a relaxing 9-holes on the Strathtyrum Course.
The New is a fantastic links style golf course. It’s a great course on its own and serves as an excellent alternative or backup for times when the golfer is not able to get a tee time on the Old Course. Plus the cost is a fraction of the Old.
I highly recommend experiencing the New Course when traveling to St Andrews to play golf. The New provides a tremendous and satisfying links experience.
Kingsbarns Golf Links Review
Balcomie Links Golf Course, Crail Scotland
Fairmont Hotel St Andrews Review
Ardgowan Hotel St Andrews Review
Mornings are quite painful for me these days. After the initial pain of looking in the mirror wears off, I notice some back stiffness as well.
Lately I’ve been hitting the back and the golfer’s elbow with Reliefor. Reliefor is a topical ointment which provides temporary relief from arthritis, muscle strains, bruises, sprains, aches, joint discomfort.
Reliefor utilizes five ingredients to help reduce or relieve minor aches and pains: menthol, aloe, Boswellia, vitamin E, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
Menthol: analgesic, pain reliving properties.
Aloe: natural skin-soothing agent.
Boswellia: an herbal extract which helps reduce swelling.
Vitamin E: protects cells against damage.
Methylsulfonylmethane: (the longest word ever written on this golf blog) a remedy for chronic pain, like arthritis.
On and Off The Course
I need all the help I can get, especially with the bad back. This topical cream can help take the edge of some of the aches and pains I experience on the course or at the computer writing awesome blog posts.
One great feature for the golf game is that this topical analgesic dries and does not leave the hands or the treatment area greasy or slippery. Nothing worse than treating your back with some pain relieving gel, then having your $500 driver slip out of your hands and knock the windshield of a car in the parking lot. Naturally the only Bentley in town…
While Reliefor can’t relieve me of the pain of looking in the mirror every morning, it can help loosen up the aches and pains that can make golf even more difficult.
It’s a Saturday evening, around 8:00. What are most regular people doing this time? Having a nice dinner. Perhaps catching a movie, some live music, or having a fun get together with family and friends.
Not a dedicated golf blogger. Nope. I’m reviewing an unconventional golf tee, the Flat Tee.
How many times have you tried to “tee up” an iron on a practice range which is mat based? Doesn’t work, does it? You can’t get a tee in the mat. So you are stuck with the rubber tee they supply which is way too high, or you try to put wooden tees in there. It never works.
Flat Tee was designed primarily with these driving range mats and situations in mind. The golfer can tee up his/her choice of a 1/4″ or 3/16″ flat tee, and get a perfect ball height for practice. Suitable clubs could be anything up to a 3-wood. Driver? Na.
First off, I can’t stand mats. It’s nearly impossible to hit a bad shot on mats because the cement underneath makes the club bounce right into the ball, rather than taking too big of a divot. For someone with a steep granny swing like mine, mats don’t expose or show bad shots. I hit good shots all the time on mats. On real grass those same shots may be too fat. Now I do have to use mats, I can use the Flat Tee for iron practice.
The design of the tee, and its “treads” on the bottom help make it flip on impact and it usually stays in the general area of the strike for easy retrieval. But sometimes if you take deep swing, the whole tee can fly… away. This could be especially problematic at a range with multiple levels.
The Flat Tee website has the caption on the front page, “The Future of Golf.” Uh, that’s a little exaggerated. But if you hit off of mats a lot and need a tiny bit of space between the cement and your ball, this is the answer.
When I felt a slight chill this morning I knew exactly what I was going to insert into my apparel scripting for the day, the Bobby Jones Donegal Cable Mock. If you’re not sure what I mean about apparel scripting, stick around and you’ll eventually find out.
Bobby Jones Donegal Cable Mock Sweater is so comfortable and soft it’s practically sinful or indulgent. The comfort of this amazing sweater is rivaled by its style, all class, just like the original Bobby Jones, my favorite golfer of all time.
The $265 imported Donegal Cable Mock is made from 90% merino wool and 10% cashmere. The fabric is so absolutely soft it’s hard to fathom. It is also very light, not heavy feeling. The stylish V-neck sports some large, old-school buttons. This is a gamer and will just as stylish and comfortable in 20 years as it is now.
This is not a super thick or heavy sweater, so it’s not quite what you’d pick for a windy day in Chicago on January 4th. But in conditions where there’s a small chill in the air, spring or fall, San Francisco type conditions, it’s a perfect choice. Just this evening I used only this sweater on a date with the fine lady, with evening temps around the high 40’s to low 50’s.
I love sporting Bobby Jones apparel. I will never be the golfer Bobby Jones was, but I gain great inspiration from him. He was a true inspiration in his play, and his classic style is still as sharp many decades later as it was in 1930, the year he won the first ever Grand Slam in golf.
Oh, that chill I mentioned before? Gone. I’m perfectly comfortable and toasty now.
Hats off Mr. Jones.