PEBBLE BEACH, California – Struggling golfers are like characters from & # 39; The Emperor & # 39; s New Clothes & # 39 ;, the famous story of Hans Christian Andersen. They spin beautiful stories full of pleasant patterns – even when in reality nothing is visible.
So, after a round with several three putts, a player will talk about all the good readings that were not rewarded. A whimsical driver of the ball will praise his swing.
This relentless positivity in the face of failure was recently noticed by retired football player Peyton Manning. After playing a pro-am round with Tiger Woods last month, Manning, a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, said with a tongue on the cheek: "I always wanted to hold a football news conference in the same way as a golfer: & # 39 ; I had a great stretch today, I got all my handoffs, I got every snap. I threw four interceptions, but for the most part I am excited about my game and I look forward to next week. & # 39; "
Don't be fooled by all the cheerful talk, said one-time PGA Tour winner Jason Gore, who is United States Open this week in his new role as USGA's Senior Director of Player Relations.
"That is our defense mechanism," said Gore. "We cannot disappoint our guards, because if we did, we would be flooded with negative thoughts."
Those thoughts come with the terrain in a game where a good lap, as defined by one of the sports of all time, Ben Hogan, takes three photos that have become exactly the same as visualized. Gore said that disappointment is a golfer's faithful companion and that the man in the mirror is the biggest nemesis of any PGA Tour player.
"You have a lot to do with failure," he said.
Consider Jordan Spieth, who collected 11 tour titles, including three majors, for his 24th birthday, and is winless in the following two years. Spieth, the 2015 US Open champion, recently declared his overwhelming drought as "a matter of perfecting swing adjustments" and shuddered at the use of the present tense to describe his slump.
"Spieth was corrected. He spoke for his opening round in last month's PGA. Championship, where he recorded his first top-20 finish of the 2018-19 season.
Spieth, 25 , took the negativity that had crept into critiques of his performance and tried to turn it into a positive. If not for his earlier success, people would notice about his improved swing or his maturation, he said, "instead of the comparisons constantly when someone is at his best, which I think is unfair to someone in a field. "
Not every sizzling golfer is like Spieth, who was the number 1 in the world at best and his fall to Some golfers, such as Max Homa, 28, are on the periphery of the spotlight and when they are struggling they almost disappear: during the 2016-17 season, when Spieth combined three wins, including the British Open, survived Homa only two parts in 17 starts.
At the end, when his failures piled up, Homa went practicing the reach on tournament weeks, away from the players caddy foot traffic. "I might have tried to alienate myself a little more so I didn't have to be with people and talk about how I was playing," said Homa, who made his first tour in Charlotte, NC last month
He also tried to evade invitations from friends from the tour to play practice rounds, where possible settle for his own company.
"It is one thing to hit a bad shot yourself," Homa explained, "but hitting one for other people makes you think a little more and deepen the level of shame."
After a while, Homa found that isolating his peers was easy. "I was rarely in a good mood," he said, "so people left me alone."
Keegan Bradley, who ended a six-year winless drought last September with his fourth win, said he was trying to stay put all the way. But unlike Homa, he said he didn't have to go out of his way to avoid his colleagues. People seemed reluctant to approach him on the range.
"I think there is an aspect where people think that you feel much worse than you are and that they don't know what to say," he said.
So why do winners generally win a crowd while underachievers toil alone?
"It's like you don't want to catch what they have," Gore said. ]
Indeed, addicted discs cannot spread like the measles, but that does not mean that other players cannot get infected. Dr. Lee Land, an Austin-based psychologist with private practice, said, "Even when we're talking about a period of inadequate play or spending time around others in a malaise, some athletes may experience an emotional fear of association infection."
Homa, meanwhile, said it was the realization that all athletes are experiencing highs and lows that "eventually endured me."
"Everyone hits bad photos, so stop worrying about it, & # 39; & # 39; he added.
But it's not so easy for golfers to to do what Homa finally did and to face the truth, instead the potential for shame, shame and rejection prevents at least some of them from recognizing their need, which probably explains some of the relentless positive turn.
And by doing all those spins, the debilitating golfers can increase their discomfort because, by denying their struggle and detaching themselves from others, they become more susceptible to the emotions they are
"Although Vulnerability in our culture is often seen as a sign of weakness, "Land said in an email exchange," the ability to share emotional openness with others can help us become more resilient in the face. of overwhelming stressors. "
Ultimately, dealing with a collapse is distressing, regardless of which techniques a golfer tries or ignores, regardless of what advice he is willing to accept. And especially if it is a high-profile golfer like Spieth.
After all, how can a player escape a slump if he is constantly asked to visit again?
"It is clear that Jordan has to go," he said in Padraig Harrington, who went seven years without a tour winning his third major. "People will ask the question. He will answer it. It is difficult. "
Before the PGA Championship, Spieth was asked if he noticed that players reacted differently to him in defeat than if he consistently won. He did not wait for the reporter to finish." No, I mean, I thought "I didn't win in the last year and a half."
Then he doubled. "I don't feel that way at all," said Spieth. said Spieth. "I helped friends on tour to reach out and say: & # 39; Hey, everyone goes through ups and downs – stick to it, you do the right things, whatever. & # 39; & # 39;
He spoke malaise -ze, or at least one dialect of it.