“Self-Made Pressure and a Lesson in Handling It"
by Coach Bob Clingerman, Albany, NY
I would describe the sixteen years of coaching Mike in his golf endeavors, whether for a practice round or a tournament, sheer pleasure! Mike's wife use to handle his business while he played in local blind golf tournaments. But since she passed away, we only have time in the late afternoon to play 9 holes. I like to say, "Mike plays until I, myself, cannot SEE anymore. Then we go directly to the 19th hole."
When we started together, I would read a green and say something like, "This will roll right to left." And he would reply, "I don't care - that's your job! My job is just to hit it the right distance." When he would be moving his head during a swing, I would say, "Mike, you are moving your head and looking up!" He would respond with, "Isn't it crazy... I'm blind and I'm still looking up!" When his ball ends up behind a tree, or in another bad situation, he usually says something like, "This is another fine mess you have gotten us into Ollie!" When he hits a good shot, it is a tribute to his talent. But when he hits a bad shot it is his coach's fault!
Mike's playing is a perfect example of how much golf is a mental game. When he is playing a practice round, Mike is a completely different player. He scores consistently lower and makes many impressive shots. However, in tournaments, he tries to make every shot just right, and the "self-made pressure" takes a toll on his game. But we'll keep working at it as long as Mike can play, and I am lucky enough to continue being his coach!
And speaking of shots, you'll probably need to pour yourself one at the end. For you, that's where the real fun may begin.