By Ken Reed

One of my favorite sporting events — and favorite golf tournament — is taking place this week: The Masters.

I love watching the four majors in golf, the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open (called simply “The Open” by many in the golf world) and the PGA. Besides watching great golf shots, I love watching how elite golfers handle the immense pressure of major golf while thousands watch in person and millions watch on television.

Golf – even for the top pros — can be a frustrating, anxiety-producing, doubt-creating endeavor. In essence, the golf course is a battlefield for the mind. Confidence or doubt? Trust or fear? Over the course of a typical five-hour round, the question becomes who will be best at controlling his/her emotions?

Golf is a different animal than other sports. It’s the ultimate mental/emotional/spiritual game. Confidence can come and go quickly.

As golf instructor and author Fred Shoemaker puts it, “No matter where they are on the golf course, most golfers are always just two shots away from being crazy.” In other words, no matter how well we might be playing, a bad shot or two can change our entire experience and outlook.

That’s why I love watching the elite golfers in the biggest tournaments. It’s inspiring watching top players successfully mute the negative vibes of their egos and conquer their emotions on Masters Sunday. Of course, occasionally, the pressure gets to some of the leaders and they fall back from the lead. That only adds to the drama.

The true masters of golf are those who can master the mental game by muting out the fear messages floating around in their heads.

Shoemaker captures the challenge of golf perfectly:

The opposite of fear is letting go. The opposite of fear is trust. When the joy of letting go becomes more important to you than the quality of your shots, the quality of your shots will amaze you, and you will have truly become a golfer.

Whoever wins the Masters this Sunday will have done just that.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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