Masters Recap: Watson’s Inner Game

Most likely, you spent Sunday at the Masters like I did, watching a dazzling display of shot-making that reached its zenith when Bubba Watson hit that 40 yd hooking gap wedge on the second playoff hole. With his  self-taught creative style he revealed an astonishing array of shots.

He must have come straight from the Shivas Iron’s lesson tee (Golf in The Kingdom)….with an image in his mind that formed an irresistible path, ” I hit the shot I saw in my head.”  He was able to translate what he imagined in his mind to a swing feel to match. With this amazing performance, he was crowned the King of the inner game.

Bubba Watson, though, was not the only player representing the inner game that day. Louis Oosthuizen was an unflappable Zen Master, calm, collected, and thoroughly enjoying himself. With unrivaled rhythm, tempo, and target awareness, he maintained his elegant swing and stroke to the end. Coming down the stretch, he, and Bubba hit shot after shot with absolute trust.

For your inner game! Next time you practice or play create an image of your intended shot in your mind, feel a swing that matches what you see, and trust what you see and feel. See what it does for your scores.

How Players Managed Their Games: Your Performance Package

There were all sorts of pre and post shot routines to observe and learn from. Pre-shot routines were not uniform among the players, but their routines were uniformly consistent. They varied from the Bubba Watson, set-the-club and swing, to Lee Westwood’s very deliberate preparation. Whether quick to swing, or slow, the sequences of their routines were evenly paced, exactly the same each time, and equally efficient.

You may not learn to hit shots like Watson, Westwood, or Oothuizen, but with practice your pre-shot routine can become just as uniform as theirs, and add considerable consistency to your game.

Whereas a pre shot routine prepares you for the shot, a post shot routine prepares you for the next shot. Here are a few examples of post shot re-focusing routines from Sunday’s play.

Although he started the final round in the lead, Peter Hanson’s play was virtually unnoticed (recognizable stars get TV time) until the shank on #12 that didn’t even reach the water. His disappointment, though, was short lived, he moved on, refocused and stayed in contention until the end.

Matt Kuchar made a three putt double from 6 ft, at #9, marched on to the 10th tee and drilled it. That’s refocusing.

We watched, Phil Mickelson’s response after the triple on 6. On the tee, he was sitting on the cusp of his fourth green jacket; one can imagine the thoughts he had as he moved the 7th tee. To his credit. he met the challenge, refocused, and maintained it to the finish.

Tiger couldn’t. His was not the body language of a champion. Disgust, frustration, anger, and disappointment were for all to see. It’s nearly impossible to hit shots when overwhelmed, as he was, by negative thoughts and emotions.

A post-shot routine can help you, as well as it could have Tiger, to monitor the flow of negative thoughts and emotions, and to refocus before your next shot.

The coronation of Bubba was complete.  And thanks to Bubba, Louis, Phil, Peter, Lee and a host of others the inner game lives on.

Note:  The players who played, Sunday, have developed repeatable swings and have found equipment to match.  And that’s an important goal for you as well. Remember, though, it’s just the foundation for the inner game from which trusting swings and playing in the zone, emerge.

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