Mark O’Meara’s Golf Lesson That Only He Can Teach Us.
Posted on June 28th, 2018 by Herb Rubenstein
Mark O’Meara received the 2017 Golden Tee Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers’ Association and in his acceptance speech he told a very funny story about his Dad playing with him at the ATT Pebble Beach National Pro Am, and gave the crowd a golf lesson only he could teach the world.
This post shares this great golf lesson from Mark O’Meara. If you want to hear the funny story by Mark about his Dad at the Pebble Beach ATT Pro Am, hire Mark for a speech for your organization, and you will hear a great speaker and learn great golf and life lessons from one of golf’s great gurus.
Of course, Mark is a great golf champion, and that is why he is in the Hall of Fame, but his acceptance speech taught us that he is a world class thought leader in the field of golf as well.
Mark told us about his first Masters Tournament. He shot 80-81 (so much for consistency). He said,
“When I played in my first Masters, I wasn’t a good golfer. I had won the U.S. Amateur, but I wasn’t any good. I still hooked the ball.”
While these statements do not seem so profound, they are. First, it was Mark O’Meara’s thought that he was “not a good golfer” when he played the first time in the Masters, that actually propelled him to improve so that he could win two major Championships (Masters and British Open) in 1998, and be elected into the Hall of Fame. Saying and believing that he wasn’t a good golfer in 1980, at age 23, when he had the goal of being very good during his lifetime, gave Mark exactly what he needed to know to become dedicated enough to work hard at the game and improve, then improve some more, and then continue to improve and improve and improve until he made it to the top ten golfers in the work for ten years.
If you want to be very good at golf, just follow the guru, Mark O’Meara’s thinking. Realize that right now (unless you are on the tour, and winning on the tour), you may not be “good” at golf (compared to how good you COULD BE AT GOLF).
This “lesson” from Mark O’Meara should not discourage you. Rather, it should help you summon the courage to think intelligently about your golf game and play/work very hard to improve every aspect of your game TO BECOME AS GOOD AS YOU CAN BE AT THE GAME OF GOLF.
As every pro knows, if you have any area of weakness, the golf course will find your weakness whether it is bunkers, negotiating tight fairways on long par fours, hitting greens on 200+ yard par threes, or hitting that five yard fade or draw on command with every club in your bag, or some combination of the above. And you can be assured that if you have a weakness playing in heavy wind, or rain, or cold, the golf gods will surely find you when you get into such a predicament, and they will not be kind to you and your golf score.
The final short five word sentence by Mark, “I still hooked the ball,” is also a very important statement with a very important lesson lying just under the surface of his words. First, what is a hook? Not a draw; what is a hook? A hook is a ball that curves sharply to the left for the right hand player and sharply to the right for the left hand player. Yes, there are times when you hit such a shot, a hook, intentionally. However, generally a “hooked golf ball” curves either in the hooked direction the golfer never intended it to go, or curves much more than golfer wanted it to curve, ending up way off the intended line.
What a “hook” really is in golf? What is a “hooked” golf shot when the player did not intentionally make the ball hook? It is a shot that goes out of control. Golf is a game of controlling the golf ball. You have to control the ball for 7,000 yards and successfully guide it (hit it) into 18 holes in the ground that are only four and one-half inches in diameter, yet can be 650 yards from the tee. When the golf ball goes out of control, your score goes out of control, and you have just proven to yourself, at that moment, you aren’t a good golfer. You might be good, or even great, on your next shot, your previous shots, and most of your shots, but when you hit a golf ball that goes “out of control,” and way “off line,” you better realize at that moment that you have to improve to become a truly “good golfer.”
So, the next time someone asks if you are a good golfer, or you ask yourself that question, remind yourself that Mark O’Meara thought he “wasn’t a good golfer” when he won the US Amateur in 1979 and played in the Masters for the first time in 1980. Knowing (believing) he wasn’t “a good golfer”, was just the thought that Mark needed to eventually become a “good golfer” in his eyes, good enough to win two majors in the same year and be in the top 10 golfers in the world for ten years.
The golf lessons Mark O’Meara gave us in his “speech” took only 27 words. Today, Mark is still a great thinker, and a thought leader, in the game. I hope I hear him speak many more times and he shares more lessons about golf and life that only Mark can teach us.