Editor’s note: Dave Mahoney is a Professional Golf Instuctor who teaches at Route 4 Golf Center in North Greenbush and at Murphy’s Driving Range on Route 9 in Saratoga Springs. Mahoney graduated from Columbia High School in East Greenbush and was captain of the golf team at RPI, earning All-ECAC First Team while getting a degree in entrepreneurial management and marketing. You can find him at www.davemahoneygolf.com.
The 2011 PGA Championship was an extra special tournament for me to watch for a couple of reasons. First of all, I had a chance to go back and watch the tournament live on the same course that just three years ago I had the great fortune to tee it up and play on.
Secondly, it was a lot of fun watching rookie Keegan Bradley win his first major championship employing the same principles that Doctor Bob Rotella taught me when I stayed at his house in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Keegan Bradley had a lot to take away from his final round collapse at the World Golf Championships in Akron, OH a week earlier. I am sure that most golfers, if they had a disappointing final nine holes like Keegan did at Firestone, would not know how to frame that experience properly. That’s when the help of Doctor Bob Rotella comes in. I can tell you that Doctor Bob likes to get his players to pay attention to the positives when they get done with a round or a tournament.
I am sure that Doctor Bob reminded Keegan that for 63 holes of the World Golf Championships he had a good shot to beat the best players in the world. In other words – if he can do that for 63 holes, why not 72? Now isn’t that a great way of looking at it?!
So over those last nine holes at Firestone, something must have changed that didn’t allow Keegan to continue his great play. Doctor Bob is really big on taking it one shot at a time, and measuring a round’s success not by how you score but by how well a player sticks to what he can control. In other words: the process or the pre-shot routine.
When Keegan Bradley skulled his chip into the water on the par-3 15th hole the tournament appeared like it was over for him. Jason Dufner had a four-shot lead with four holes to play. But this time, it looked like Keegan wasn’t going to lose his focus. As a result, he was able to play his best and force a playoff that he would eventually win.
Keegan followed up his triple-bogey with birdies on #16 and #17 and made a great par at 18. He committed himself to being fully-focused on his routine, and didn’t let the outcome of the 15th hole carry over into one more shot.
If you watched Keegan, when he teed it up on #16, it didn’t appear that there were any remnants of negativity in his mind. He was completely focused on hitting a great drive. It was as if the 15th hole hadn’t even happened when he was ready to hit.
Doctor Bob gave me another great trick he likes to use with his players that I think you will find very valuable. While working with Fred Couples, before each shot, Freddie would remember the best shot he had ever hit with that particular club. So Keegan may have been standing on 16 not giving any attention the previous hole but rather giving full attention to the shot he wanted to hit. Maybe he remembered hitting a perfect drive on that hole before he got into his routine? Who knows, but it’s a great tip.
It is also interesting to note that when I played two rounds with Doctor Bob, he never used a score card. The reason was because in his mind, if I stayed committed to the shot at hand, and just played one shot at a time, I would play my best. He didn’t want to give importance to the score; rather he gave complete importance to the routine, and how committed I was on each shot before I hit.
Finally, one of the greatest things Doctor Bob shared with me was the idea of having a long term memory of great shots, tournament victories, or any great experiences you may have had with your game in the forefront of your memory.
Giving all your golfing attention to reasons why you are good enough to achieve your goals rather than filling your mind with reasons why you are not.
In order to win on the PGA Tour today, you have to do a lot more than have a great swing. Your mindset has to be your greatest asset.
With the help of Doctor Bob, Keegan Bradley was able to make his wildest dreams a reality. Use these tips, and you too can become the kind of golfer you really want to be!
Dave Mahoney II, 30, grew up in North Greenbush and has battled back injuries but says he feels great now.
Mahoney learned the mental side of the game from just a couple of days spent with famed sports psychologist Bob Rotella. In October 2006, Mahoney stayed with Rotella the day after Padraig Harrington did.
“It was like golfer’s heaven when you walked into [Rotella’s] basement,” Mahoney said. “There was a putting green, weight room, autographed pictures” including Phil Mickelson, Tom Kite and The Goo-Goo Dolls rock band.
“[Rotella] helped them get over writer’s block for their new CD,” Mahoney said.
They had dinner and played a round of golf and Mahoney watched him work.
“Really just a positive aura around the guy,” he said.