Join Tom Lovelady, Tony Ruggiero, Jackson Koert, and Cordie Walker around the dinner table after they talk about the realities of playing golf at the highest level.
“All you see on television is guys playing well… You don’t see players that are just playing ok or struggling.”
That’s the case for the vast majority of players that tee it up on the world’s best tours every week. As hard as golf is, the very best in the world only have a handful of weeks a year where they bring it all together.
One week they’re hitting it great but, burn the edge of every birdie putt they have and barely make the cut. The next week, the end up with the less favorable side of the draw on Thursday and Friday, play great, and miss the cut by a single shot.
“That’s why golf’s so hard… there’s so many moving pieces.”
It’s never for lack of hard work and determination, though. Tom knows this firsthand. He says, “the golf ball doesn’t know how much hard work you’re putting in… Just what you do to it.”
Aside from the daily and weekly grind that is Tour level golf, there’s plenty of other distractions as well. For younger players, like Tom, there’s always the temptation to switch equipment and get paid more money. More times than he can count, Tom’s seen the decision backfire. “I personally know guys that have switched from company A to company B, and completely fallen off of what they’re capable of doing.” It’s not just the players who succumb to this pressure, either. “It’s a shame that agents put so much pressure on young players to switch equipment just for the money… They get paid too.”
Those distractions don’t just end with equipment reps on the range, though. At Tom’s level, it’s easy to tell yourself you’re going to outwork everybody.
The truth is, the guys on top of the leaderboard aren’t the ones beating balls until dark.
Practicing the right way is something Tom has learned over the years.
As his instructor, Tony Ruggiero points out, “You can practice until you hit it shitty.”
His point is that, beating balls incessantly, can actually backfire when you’re playing well, sometimes even more when you’re not. Tom is of the cloth that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it… Unless you’re fine-tuning… I only practice to gain confidence.”
When it comes to practice, everyone in Tom’s camp agrees that it’s ”quality over quantity… not overdoing, overthinking, etc.”
At the end of the day, Tom’s become comfortable with the fact that golf’s an imperfect game. Believe it or not, that fact almost seems to give him pause and comfort. He’s had a taste, and a good bit of success at the highest of levels. He knows what he needs to do both on and off the course to play his best.
The recipe is sublimely refreshing in its simplicity. You might ask yourself, why he lost his PGA Tour card for this year.
The answer? Golf’s just that damn hard.
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