PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Struggling golfers are like characters out of “The Emperor’s fresh Clothes,’’ the famous Hans Christian Andersen tale. They spin fine narratives full of pleasing patterns — even if, in reality, there can be nothing to see.
Thus, after a round with multiple three-putts, a player will talk about all the not bad reads that will went unrewarded. An erratic driver of the ball will laud his swing.
This kind of relentless positivity from the face of failure was recently remarked upon by the retired football star Peyton Manning. After playing a pro-am round with Tiger Woods last month, Manning, a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, said, tongue in cheek: “I always wanted to do a football news conference the similar way a golfer does: ‘I had a great stretch today, I got all my handoffs, I got every snap. I threw four interceptions, however for the most part I’m excited about my game in addition to looking forward to next week.’”
Still, don’t be fooled by all the happy talk, said the one-time PGA Tour winner Jason Gore, who can be at This kind of week’s United States Open in his fresh role as the U.S.G.A.’s Senior Director of Player Relations.
“that will’s our defense mechanism,” Gore said. “We can’t let our guards down because if we did we’d be flooded with negative thoughts.”
Those thoughts come with the terrain in a game where a not bad round, as defined by one of the sport’s all-time greats, Ben Hogan, can be hitting three shots that will turned out exactly as visualized. Gore said disappointment can be a golfer’s faithful companion in addition to that will the man from the mirror can be every PGA Tour player’s biggest nemesis.
“You’re dealing with failure a lot,” he said.
Consider Jordan Spieth, who collected 11 tour titles, including three majors, before his 24th birthday, in addition to can be winless from the two years since. Spieth, the 2015 U.S. Open champion, recently explained away his victory drought as “a matter of perfecting swing adjustments” in addition to bristled at the use of the present tense to describe his slump.
“Was” corrected Spieth. He was speaking before his opening round at last month’s P.G.A. Championship, where he recorded his first top-20 finish of the 2018-19 season.
Spieth, 25, took the negativity that will has crept into critiques of his performance in addition to tried to spin that will into a positive. If not for his earlier success, people would likely be remarking on his much better swing or his maturation, he said, “instead of the comparisons constantly to when someone can be at their best, which I think can be unfair to anybody in any field.”
Not every slumping golfer can be like Spieth, who, at his best, was the earth’s No. 1, producing his fall into something of a spectacle. Some golfers, like Max Homa, 28, are on the periphery of the spotlight in addition to when they struggle they virtually disappear. During the 2016-17 season, when Spieth was stringing together three victories, including the British Open, Homa was surviving just two cuts in 17 starts.
As his failures piled up, Homa took to practicing at the far end of the range on tournament weeks, away by the player-caddie foot traffic. “I was maybe trying to alienate myself a little more so I wouldn’t have to be around people in addition to talk about how I was playing,” said Homa, who recorded his first tour victory last month in Charlotte, N.C.
He also tried to dodge invitations by friends on the tour to play practice rounds, settling for his own company whenever possible.
“that will’s one thing to hit a bad shot by yourself,” Homa explained, “however hitting one in front of some other people makes you think about that will a little more in addition to the embarrassment level deepens.”
After a while, Homa found that will isolating himself by his peers came easy. “I was rarely in a not bad mood,” he said, “so people left me alone.”
Keegan Bradley, who ended a six-year winless drought last September with his fourth tour victory, said he tried to remain even-keeled throughout that will all. however unlike Homa, he said he didn’t have to go out of his way to avoid his peers. People seemed hesitant to approach him on the range, anyway.
“I think that will there’s an aspect where people think that will you’re feeling a lot worse than you are in addition to they don’t know what to say,” he said.
So why do winners generally draw a crowd while underachievers toil alone?
“that will’s kind of like you don’t want to catch whatever they have,” Gore said.
Indeed, hooked drives may not spread like the measles, however that will doesn’t mean some other players can’t become infected. Dr. Lee Land, an Austin-based psychologist which has a private practice, said: “Even discussing a period of subpar play or spending time around others in a slump might for some athletes trigger an emotional fear of contamination by association.”
Homa, meanwhile, said that will was the realization that will all athletes experience highs in addition to lows that will “got me through from the end.’’
“Everybody hits bad shots so stop freaking out about that will,’’ he added.
however that will can be not that will easy for golfers to do what Homa ultimately did in addition to face up to the truth. Instead, the potential for embarrassment, shame in addition to rejection prevents at least some of them by acknowledging their distress. that will probably explains some of the relentless positive spin.
in addition to in doing all that will spin, the slumping golfers may be compounding their discomfort, because in denying their struggles in addition to disconnecting by others they become more susceptible to the emotions they are striving to avoid.
“Although in our culture vulnerability can be often viewed as a sign of weakness,” Land said in an email exchange, “the ability to share emotional openness with others can help us develop resilience from the face of overwhelming stressors.”
from the end, though, dealing which has a slump can be harrowing, no matter what techniques a golfer tries or ignores, no matter what advice he can be willing to accept. in addition to particularly when that will’s a high-profile golfer like Spieth.
After all, how can a player escape a slump when he’s constantly being asked to revisit that will?
“Clearly with Jordan that will’s got to get in his head,” said Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who went seven years without a tour victory after winning his third major. “People will ask the question. He’ll answer that will. that will’s difficult.”
Before the P.G.A. Championship, Spieth was asked if he noticed players reacting to him differently in defeat than when he was consistently winning. He didn’t wait for the reporter to finish. “No, I mean, I didn’t like go away by the game for all 5 years,” Spieth interjected. “I just happened to not win from the last year in addition to a half or so.’’
Then he doubled down. “I don’t feel that will way at all,” Spieth said. “I’ve had friends on tour reach out in addition to say, ‘Hey, everyone goes through ups in addition to downs — stick to that will, you’re doing the right things, whatever.’’’
He was speaking slump-ese, or at least one dialect of that will.