“For most professional golfers it is a daily grind playing in small tournaments for even smaller purses where you are nearly always staring at more month at the end of the money.”Steven Jeffress Playing in His First Major at 37
Imagine just for a moment getting a chance to play in your first major golf championship, wouldn’t that be a fantastic moment in your life?
Now imagine that you are 37 years old and playing in your first major golf championship.
Imagine that you've been playing on professional golf tours around the world since your early 20’s and after hitting thousands of golf shots in pro tournaments you finally get your chance to play in the oldest and greatest golf championship of them all; The Open Championship.
Aussie golfer Steven Jeffress has stepped up to the major leagues this week after qualifying earlier in the year at Kingston Heath Golf Course in Melbourne where he gained one of just three spots to play in the Open Championship at Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland.
Steven was the second best qualifier with a score of 9 under for two rounds around one of Australia’s most renowned golf courses.
How tough was it to qualify for the Open Championship in Australia this year? Well, to get your ticket into the Open you needed to shoot 8 under or better for 2 days.
Steven is one of 156 players competing at Muirfield this week with the leading 70 players, and those tied for 70th place after two rounds, qualifying for the final 36 holes.
I wrote about Steven in August last year (read the article here) as someone with tremendous grit and determination who at the time was coming out of a career threatening slump where for over a year he had lost his confidence, his golf game and had made almost no money.
He was on the brink of retiring from playing professional tour golf and finding something else to do.
And who could blame him when professional golf is arguably the toughest of all professional sports to make it in – let alone just make a living.
In most big time professional sports when you make it to the big leagues you sign contracts for millions of dollars, or you get paid gigantic salaries every week. This is simply not the case in professional tour golf where a very small percentage of professional golfers earn mega contracts with big brand companies, and also big checks for playing well in the big tournaments around the world.
For most professional golfers it is a daily grind playing in small tournaments for even smaller purses, where you are nearly always staring at more month at the end of your money.
We so easily talk about how this great golfer or that great golfer is going to perform in a major championship, but we pay no mind to the professionals like Steven Jeffress and others who are still trying desperately to climb their success ladder and achieve their moment of significance.
The key to Steven's success is described by Angela Duckworth and her colleagues in their paper;
Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long Term Goals.
In her paper Duckworth and colleagues suggest that people who possess a drive to tirelessly work through the challenges, and adversity to achieve their goals are also uniquely positioned to reach higher achievements than others who lack similar stamina.
Their definition of Grit is defined as follows: “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.”
Zeal and Persistence of Motive and Effort
Specifically, those individuals who were identified as more successful and influential than their contempories typically possessed traits above and beyond that of normal ability.
While ability was still critically important, these individuals also possessed “zeal” (which is described as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective) and “persistence of motive and effort.” Duckworth believes this dual-component of Grit to be a crucial difference from similar traits.
Here's the Key Point...
Grit is described as a stable trait that does not require immediate positive feedback. Golfers high in Grit are able to maintain their determination and motivation over long periods despite experiences with failure and adversity.
Tour professionals that don't give up easily have passion and commitment towards long-term objectives and this is the overriding factor that provides the stamina required to “stay the course” even through the constant challenges and set-backs of playing professional golf.
Essentially, the Grittier person (golfer) is focused on winning the marathon, not the sprint.
You can read more about Grit here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grit_(personality_trait)
Steven Jeffress and many of his colleagues are the embodiment of what a professional tour player is; a gritty tough as nails competitor; with an extremely resilient nature, who will just keep turning up to play.
This is the most important factor in golf success; you have to keep turning up to play, and keep trying to improve your performance.
The easiest thing to do is give up when things are not going the way they should and many will do just that.
And Steven is playing in the greatest golf championship of them all because he just keeps turning up to play.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
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