Shane Lowry’s win at The Open Championship at Royal Portrush was well deserved. Lowry was the best golfer of the week and deserves all the praise that is being heaped upon him.
I have taken a look at Shane’s mindset to search for the nuggets of wisdom that we can use. What I have found can help you to play your best golf when it matters.
Here are Shane Lowry’s 7 Open Lessons
1. Change what you can, accept the rest
Twelve months ago Lowry was in tears after missing the cut at The Open Championship at Carnoustie. “Golf wasn’t my friend at the time ” said the man from County Offaly in Ireland, “It was something that became very stressful and it was weighing on me. What a difference a year makes.”
We have all experienced times when the game seems to cruel and beats us up. Here is what Shane did. He made some changes. He changed his caddy and he changed his attitude and he waited patiently.
We would all do well to remember that if golf becomes too stressful, simply change the things that you can control and be patient and wait for the things you can’t control to change. Perhaps you could change the group that you play with, or stop entering so many competitions or just hit irons off the tee. You decide what to change. Change brings variety and interest and this creates a new challenge, it focuses the mind and when we are more focused we perform better.
Did you see the way Lowry enjoyed the crowds, despite some of the commentators urging him to become more intense and to stop smiling, Shane was beaming through the rounds. Enjoying yourself in the moment is fine. It’s when you want the good times to continue and resent the bad times that we get into mental troubles.
Did you ever really enjoy yourself and play terribly? Probably not. When we play golf and focus only on the score we are setting ourselves up for misery. We cannot control the score. Trying to do so ends in pain for us. Lowry was determined to enjoy the home crowds support and you could tell by his smile that he was doing so. Things won’t always go your way but you have a much better chance of recovering if you have a smile on your face.
3. Self doubt is ok
” I suppose I didn’t even know going out this morning if I was good enough to win a major.” This was Shane’s comment after winning on Sunday. He had self doubt. He had been in a winning position before and lost a 4 shot lead on the Sunday of the 2016 U.S. Open.
He had only had a few hour sleep on Saturday night.
So often we are told that we must have confidence, walk tall and pretend with our body language that we don’t have doubts. Nonsense. It is natural to have doubts.
The problem arises when we think that we shouldn’t be having doubts and that we shouldn’t be having a sleepless night. Engaging with this line of thinking gets us even more worried.
Accept your doubts are just thoughts, it’s perfectly natural for them to come along. Remember this though, you don’t have to believe those troubling thoughts are going to come true.
Simply observe your thoughts as they arise and do your best not to react to them.
Deal with reality, you may or may not do well. That is golf.
4. Get golf into perspective
“No matter what I shoot tomorrow, my two year old will be there waiting for me.” This was Shane’s way of bringing a healthy dose of reality to the situation. What can you remind yourself of so that you don’t make this game we love become too much of a chore? Because it is just a game, after all, no matter what level you are playing at.
5. Talk it through
Lowry was worried about not playing well in his home country’s Open Championship and all of those little doubts were playing on his mind. He went and spoke quietly with his coach Neil Manchip and got all of his worries out on the table. ” I left that room full of confidence and ready to go.” It is a great idea to talk things through with a coach so that you can explore all of your doubts and see that most of your fears are just shadows dancing in the corners of your mind. Nothing much will come of them. Shane was also using his caddy Bo to discuss his feelings to as they played.
When you play it’s ok to let your playing partners know how you feel. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of awareness.
6. Keep things simple
Lowry said, “I’m not very technically minded. The work I do with Neil (his coach), is quite simple and I hope I can stay with him for the rest of my career.” Having lots of technical thoughts will only get in the way , especially when you are under pressure.
Use some of your practice time to develop your ability to let go of technical thinking as you swing. Get in touch if you are not sure how.
After all was said and done Shane Lowry decided that all he could do was to try his best on each and every shot. Ultimately that is golf. When it is time to play your next shot, engage your senses, be clear about the shot you want to hit and notice if your mind stays focused as you swing. You may find that you are losing focus as you swing with your mind wandering to the outcome before you have even finished your stroke.
Repeat until you putt out on the 18th green.