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Monday, June 16, 2014

Easy Does It

The final round of the U.S. Open played out at Pinehurst in North Carolina on Father’s Day. Won by Martin Kaymer of Germany. A truly cool customer. It struck me that as I enjoyed a relaxing day watching golf, many fathers in sports and other professions were not allowed this luxury. Certain chosen careers simply require dads to be on the job on Sundays, even on Father’s Day.

And while many pro golfers may look relaxed on the course, most admit to having to play a mental game to keep it together. This is especially true if they are in the running on Sunday and have a shot at winning. Earlier this year, the New York Times did a piece on how pro golfers deal with that pressure.

Brandt Snedeker admitted that about five to six pounds comes off during major tournament weeks. To prepare himself, he’s tried caffeine doses and Red Bull to get his jitters going like he was in the last day hunt on the course. Dustin Johnson plays practice rounds with money on the line to get pumped up.

Some golfers do calisthenics to raise the heart rate. There’s nothing like playing golf with a friend who is doing jumping jacks between shots. Hey…if it works!

Performance consultant Oliver Morton makes the comment, “Swings don’t win tournaments. People do.” That is the way he emphasizes to clients to get temperament under control. Sounds easy.

One pro golfer counts to four before each shot. Others clam up under the pressure. Each person has to find what works for them.

The anxiety and tension of a major golf tournament is one thing. Living under those conditions every day is another. For several years I had an anxiety disorder that gave me panic attacks. They seemed to come out of nowhere, but when they did, in came a true sense of terror. They ended about a decade or so ago.

On the day this blog first appears I will be speaking with an expert on the topic of fear and anxiety. He will be a guest on my radio talk show. Oddly, I LIKE the feel of doing live radio as it generates its own thrill of pressure. Like standing on the edge of a diving board that first time. But that is not the same as feelings of helplessness in anxiety or panic. That is debilitating.

Sometimes we simply need to learn to relax. Or we must find a method to deal with unwanted anxiety. Humans were not meant to function with heart rates out of control. Or with depression that can often accompany these experiences.

I’ve wondered how Jesus handled all the pressure that came upon His life. People put their demands on Him all the time. Frequently He had to sneak away just to get time alone, or with His disciples.

Jesus often reminded us how fruitless worry and anxiety are. Read Matthew 6:25-34. It ends with this statement: You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.

That is so true. And from what I’ve read, it doesn’t help your short game in golf either. So “putt” on a happy face.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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