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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Bobby Jones and Byron Nelson Had to Learn the Same Lesson

Two of the greatest players we've ever seen both had the same problem and managed to fix it. They were Bobby Jones and Byron Nelson. What was the problem?

They both realized, by reviewing their rounds, that they had the tendency to let up, or lose concentration, on easy-looking shots. Byron had this realization prior to his incredible season of 1945, when he won eleven tournaments in a row, and 18 in total. He improved his scoring average by one and a half shots per round, finishing the season with an unheard of scoring average of 68.33. In 1945 Byron was on a mission. He wanted to set some records to be remembered by and he wanted to earn enough to buy his Texas ranch so he could retire from the grind of the tour. He accomplished both those goals with a huge exclamation point, setting a record that will surely never be touched. And he did this by finding a way to play every shot, including the easy-looking ones, for all it was worth.

Bobby Jones went seven years before he finally managed to win a Major. Of course, he started playing in Majors at age 14, so it isn't as bad as it sounds. But it was only when he learned to play one shot at a time that he started winning. In the next seven years he won over 60 percent of the Majors he entered. 

Both players were extraordinary players, the like of which we may never see again. But both, despite their prodigious talent, had to learn the same lesson every golfer determined to play his best must learn. You must play one shot at a time and give every shot, no matter how simple, your best effort. And, if you think that's easy to do, just try it sometime. 

Bobby Jones believed that the fun in golf was playing your hardest, be it for a two dollar Nassau, or a Major championship. By throwing yourself whole-heartedly into the game, he was certain that you get the most benefit from it. Playing that way gives you a reprieve, at least for four hours, from any troubles or worries you might have; because concentrating on your golf gives you no time to think about work. It's all-consuming. The other benefit is an important psychological one. Whether you play well or poorly, at least at the end of the round you have the satisfaction of knowing you did the best you could with what you had to work with that day. And that is all anyone can be expected to do.

And playing hard doesn't mean you can't enjoy the walk and the company. It just means you have to mean business when it's your turn to play. I don't know about you, but I doubt I've ever managed to play like that; giving every shot my full attention and effort. But hope springs eternal. All you can do is try.