Please do not take a hostile stance or political view of the use “prisoner.” I believe you know what I mean! It has been one week from today that we at GPC have been shut down and you have most likely been imprisoned at home from school or work. Initially it probably felt fun or maybe even like a staycation! However, now after a week at home and in the midst of a major economic crash it is a bit more serious. With this being said, we must make sure that the outside circumstances do not control our thoughts and all of our actions!
There is plenty we can do at home to continue your improvement of golf and life. I would like to share a story that I remember reading about 20 years ago, told by a Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war. Unfortunately, I cannot remember his name and the source (I believe it may be from Dr. Bob Rotella) but anyway, here you go. In 1965 a soldier (Bob) was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and his plane was shot down over Vietnam. As instructed during training, he pulled the eject cord on his seat and bam, out he went into the dark skies. When he hit the ground, he was met by an “unwelcome” committee of Vietnam soldiers and from that moment on his world changed. He was beaten, starved, abused, all in an effort to give up information the Vietnamese thought would help them defend their country. After months of abuse, Bob realized his hope of being saved or getting out of this prison had to change; he needed to resolve himself to the fact that he may never leave. As a fighter pilot, he went through training on how to deal with the possibility of being captured behind enemy lines and different ways to deal with the mental torture. This is not something that is easily replicable in a “practice” scenario, but when forced our minds are our greatest weapon and asset! So, Bob began using the tools learned in his training by focusing on his breathing, meditation, and visualizing how it would feel to be back outside in the sunshine playing a game he loved, golf! Bob grew up in a small town just outside of Kansas City. His town had a municipal golf course that he remembered playing with his dad and friends. He had never played “good” golf, but he enjoyed it and always looked forward to playing when he had time. As the days rolled by in captivity, he began thinking more about his golf game. His meditation and visualization of his golf course became his savior. Each day he was awakened at 6am for breakfast, which typically was a plate of rice and some type of “gravy.” He learned to like whatever it was. After breakfast he was put back in his 5’x 5’ cell and left there until 5pm. Many of his fellow prisoners struggled with this, but Bob figured out that the circumstances around him didn’t have to define his existence. While in his cell Bob began a routine of meditation, focusing on breathing, then moving to visualization of his beloved golf course. He would play rounds of golf in his head. He could picture every hole, he could smell the fresh cut grass, he felt the warm Kansas sun on his face, he could feel the wrapping of the leather of his grips (back then a lot of clubs had leather wrapping), he could hear the sounds of birds, the chatter of his friends talking in the background. He heard the click of the ball off of his clubs when he hit, the feeling of his driver and seeing the ball travel down the fairway; the great feeling of an iron shot hit so crisply, the turf ripping with each shot, and the distinct sound of the ball rattle in the hole. Day after day, Bob would go through every hole, play every shot he could imagine. He became so adept at playing his golf rounds that afterwards he had the feeling in his body that he had actually played. In the hours that it took him to play he wasn’t in Vietnam prison, he was at home in his small town outside of Kansas City. He had never broken 80 before when he actually played the course and wasn’t sure if he would ever get back to play it again, but he felt excited thinking about the possibility of someday! Fast forward, Bob and others fortunately survived his imprisonment, and one of the first things he did once he was able to return home was to go and play golf. Finally, after nearly 20 years he was able to play his hometown course. Bob went out with a couple of old friends and had the best day. He was playing out of his mind (literally). He knew every shot he was going to hit before he hit it, as he had played every shot on every hole thousands of times in his mind, under all types of conditions. He played with the same feeling he did while he was in his 5’ x 5’ cell. His score that day was 71, even par! His best score ever! After not touching a club for nearly 20 years! Is this even possible? YES.
Why am I sharing this with you? I would like for you to take advantage of this tough situation we are all facing and use your most powerful tool, your mind, not only to survive, but to thrive in the face of adversity. I understand how difficult it must be to lose something, to see it taken away without little regard to your feelings. This is a time when leaders and champions are made. These are the moments you find your grit, resilience and how much you want to be your best self! These times are temporary, but the actions you take can have lifelong effects. Make sure they are the ones that will help move you on your journey of excellence!
ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY!