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The Tour Report
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December 10 2013

11:37 AM

Mental Game: Practice your strengths

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Zach Johnson used his strengths to knock off Tiger Woods at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

The duel at Sherwood Country Club was reminiscent of the tale of David and Goliath. Compared to the monumental Tiger Woods, the stature and resume of Zach Johnson was quite diminutive. But that had no bearing on the end result. After an amazing hole-out from the drop area to tie Tiger in regulation play, Johnson went on to win the playoff and the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.

Like David and his mighty foe, Johnson could never keep up with Tiger’s power game. In 2013, Johnson ranked 153rd on the PGA TOUR in driving distance at 278.8 yards per drive. However, Johnson ranked 19th in scoring average (70.10). The secret to Johnson’s success in golf is not the power game. Rather Johnson focuses on his strengths. His golfing power comes from his wedge game and putting prowess.

Psychologists now propose that we should focus on our strengths, and decrease our motivation toward the improvement of our weaknesses. When you work on your strengths, you are energized and happy. Practicing your weakness can drain you, and in most cases, be joyless.

If Johnson focused on getting longer off the tee, he may have ruined his unique swing. Instead, he focuses on what got him to the PGA TOUR and then made it sing loudly!

Do you worry about your weaknesses in golf? Are you always looking for that extra 10 yards off the tee?  Is the long bomb your entire focus when you practice?

Instead of working on the 300-yard drive, keep on practicing your strengths.  Get great at certain key elements in your golf game, like Johnson has, and you too will begin to see the long term benefits to your scores.

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 information about mental game coaching as well as get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com.

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