by Michael Riggs, M.Ed.
As kids we were encouraged to imagine possibilities, to dream of what our future might be like, and to see ourselves as astronauts, and doctors, and world-class athletes.
But, somewhere along the way, reality takes over and the day-to-day of life’s activities shifts our dreams of future greatness to the hum-drum of going to school or work. Goals and aspirations fall from the stars landing on the pavement four feet in front of us, and our position slips from world-class to the somewhere-in-the-middle-of-class.
Greatness, first and foremost, is the product of big dreams, and “some day I am gonnas,” and the feeling deep down that unbelievably-awesome-accomplishment is not a matter “if,” but of “when.” Success becomes the reality of amazing golfers that dream big, see the golf course as a playground and are absolutely sure that they will become all that they want to become. Why? Because they refuse to see, in their minds eye, anything but greatness!
The ability of golfers to imagine possibilities may be their most powerful, yet underused, tool. When I begin working with a player, from the nationally competitive player to the new player trying to grasp the fundamentals, I always ask, “So, where are you going with your game? Can you imagine yourself walking down the middle of the eighteenth fairway, gallery applauding, on your way to the Master’s title? Is your dream to be the best?” Many coaches and parents believe that it is best to be realistic with the young player and not set himm up for disappointment by encouraging him to set his goals too high. Baloney! What is golf without the pull of the vision of excellence? What is the purpose of the day-to-day training without the knowing that it’s all for the opportunity to be a star? Why do it without a big, dreamy, glorious, magnificent purpose?
It is my experience that the lowering of expectations and the “padding of the fall” for young golfers comes from adults that have grown afraid to try because they have failed themselves. They have let the pain and bewilderment of failure become the captain of their ship. Too many adults have become handcuffed by past disappointments, restricting their ability to “give it another go.” Their dreams of the stars have long past fallen to the earth. Their belief that “success in the trying” has become an empty battle cry. And, the most discouraging ring to it all is that their children see, absorb, and copy this defeatist way of thinking. Their children too, become falling stars long before they have even given themselves a chance to shine.
I challenge every parent, golfer, and coach reading this — dare to be great! Take an honest look at your life, your relationships, your job, your golf life, and determine if your efforts are minimized by the fear that you may not achieve your dreams. Has past failure caused you to be half-hearted in your present efforts and your future aspirations? If so, I challenge you to recommit to your childhood fantasy of being the best. I encourage you to redefine “failure” as the refusal to keep trying, and not a lack of success. I appeal to you to make your reverie your reality.
If you can’t do it for yourselves, do it for your young players.
Dream BIG! Create and hold visions of greatness and reuse to give them up – no matter what comes your way.
Congratulations Connie Demattia, Director of Instruction at the Cantigny Golf Academy, on being selected as the 2011 IL PGA Teacher of the Year.
In Another’s Words…
I have a tip that can take five strokes off anyone’s golf game. It is called an eraser.
— Arnold Palmer