Schwartzel’s Winning Mind at The Masters
At Augusta National the final, Sunday, the excitement and pressure mounted as the contending players reached Amen corner. As we wrote in the lead-up to the Masters, the challenge for each player, would be to stay in the present, shut-off their conscious minds (thinking brain), keep their emotions in check, and make sure their minds of imagination (subconscious) were totally engaged.
Balancing the three distinct minds, with which we all process information-the conscious, emotional, and imaginative minds – was essential. Each mind would have a significantly different effect upon their performance.
The anticipated Masters drama didn’t disappoint as ten plus players were clustered on the leader board as the leaders reached the eleventh tee. No one was immune to the pressure, so mind balancing was vital for high-level performance.
The dust has settled now. McIlroy, had his meltdown, tried to enter the Baker Cabin early, and to the surprise of no one, re-surfaced the next week, playing well in Malaysia. The green jacket was a great fit for Charl Shwartzel. Adam Scott and Jason Day played brilliantly together forming an even stronger bond. Other notables – everyone’s a notable at Augusta – were on and off the leader board as play swung around Amen Corner and into the finishing holes.
Tiger made his move with a stunning front nine 31. Opportunities for him were many coming in. Unlucky? Maybe! Some said that the steel-nerved Tiger of old would have not missed the short one on twelve, would have lagged it up close on thirteen, and drilled-in the eagle on fifteen. Maybe he faltered, as one writer explained, because” God just might have needed more penance.”
The Mind of Imagination
To illustrate imaginative play how about the champion running in the chip on number one, holing out on three and sinking four demanding putts on fifteen – eighteen. Just saying that he was in the “zone” is really not enough. No doubt he clearly saw and felt the shots in advance and delivered them with the improvisational stealth of a jazz musician. He managed his emotional mind, used his conscious mind to select the right strategy for each moment, and his imaginative mind took care of the rest
The Conscious Mind-Thinking Brain
The conscious mind is best used when the body is in a static state-in other words, when we aren’t attempting to swing a golf club. Standing over any shot down the stretch of the challenging finishing holes with thoughts on how to swing, just doesn’t work.
The Emotional Mind
1000 thoughts and emotions filtered through the player’s minds during the final round. Many of them were positive and inspired great play. Some were not. It was how quickly a player returned to a neutral emotional state, that mattered most.
The start-up of a negative thought or emotion can’t always be controlled. The direction, intensity, and duration can be. You can’t always control the immediate, almost instinctive, reaction of anger, disgust, or frustration, to a mis-hit shot. But, you are in total control of whether that emotion or thought makes it to the surface in your expressions or actions, whether you let it consume you or you let it go, and whether or not you let that emotion or thought linger to affect your next shot.
The Winning Mind
“It’s a game of seeing and feeling….It demands a stillness of mind and imaginative powers,” wrote Michael Murphy in The Kingdom of Shivas Irons. The leaders imagined their shots, then let their bodies do what they already knew how to do.
Charl Schwartzel’s, imaginative play arrived on the strength of his preparation. It was seeing targets, shapes of shots and then allowing his swing to come from deep within. He brought music to his game.