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October 15 2013

1:53 PM

Mental Game: Walker's balanced life

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Jimmy Walker has a full life outside of golf, and it has helped him on the course.

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Jimmy Walker is more than just a great golfer and winner of the Frys.com Open. He is also an astrophotographer. He takes pictures of the stars and objects in the night sky -- far out!

Some golfers think they should focus all their energies on playing and practicing because they follow the mantra that to be the best you must worker harder than the next person. While hard work is essential to build a solid golf swing, you will need balance in your life to build a great mental game.

All work and no play adds to the pressure you will feel on the golf course. Let me explain: If you place all your ego eggs into the proverbial golf basket, you will have a greater tendency to get more stressed during important events. That is, if golf is your only outlet for self-esteem, then you will have a greater need to demonstrate your competence in a positive way. And with a greater need to demonstrate your self-esteem comes greater anxiety.

Outside interests like photography, painting, or playing the guitar can nourish your self-esteem and fill you up with positive feelings of self-worth. Then, when you step on the golf course, you will not feel the need to always play your best and shoot a great score. Outside interests will diminish your anxiety on the golf course, and as a result, increase the chances of you playing better more often.

Jack Nicklaus was the epitome of someone who diversified his life’s portfolio. During his playing days, he designed golf courses, had a golf manufacturing business and was a wonderful father. Nicklaus mentioned that he would bounce back much quicker from a bad round because he had so many outside interests that buffered the blow of playing poorly. Nicklaus further stated that all his “other golf” activities provided getaways which refreshed and renewed his eagerness for competitive golf.

Invest in many outside activities and have a balance to your life’s portfolio. In turn, you will see your golf game accrue in the long run.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com

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