Six years ago I was introduced to Jason Goldsmith. At the time, I had just begun playing mini-tour events and competing on a weekly basis. I was interested in learning more about green-reading and I knew I needed to learn from the best. Jason was kind enough to take me under his wing and teach me things I could never have learned without his guidance. What I didn’t know at the time was that Jason was going to give me something far more valuable than green-reading skills.
So flashback with me to 2009. I’m hitting balls every day, playing, practicing, competing… occasionally playing pretty well. I’m still trying to get better and searching for a piece of a puzzle that seems so finite and yet infinite. I meet Jason. He teaches me green-reading. I read greens better. I don’t improve much. I spend hours and hours hitting putts and hitting balls and playing, etc. Nothing seems to make a huge difference in my game. I can play great one day and then play mediocre the next. You know the feeling.
Now jump to 2012, sometime in the summer, between Iowa and Reno. I have just missed qualifying (again) for my 7th PGA Tour event of the year and I have one left: The Reno Tahoe Open. I’m driving through the flyover states and I get a call from Jason. He asks how things are going and I give him the full run-down. I’ve made some strides, learned a lot, still not feeling like I belong on tour, but know I have the ability to get there. He asks me to do an exercise. He says, “Allow your awareness to find a point on the horizon, then allow your eyes to follow. Now, allow your awareness to come back to a closer point (an overpass or a sign on the side of the road), and now allow your eyes to follow.” He keeps me doing this exercise for a few minutes and I start to feel very calm. My body is relaxed. My mind is focused. (I’m still on the road). After talking for over an hour, I’m now at a Long John Silver’s in the middle of nowhere. I’m parked here for at least an hour as we chat about the mental game and the attention (covert vs. overt). He explains the meaning of the exercise and how it can work to allow me to play my best.
A day later I birdie my last hole of the pre-qualifier in Reno to get into the Monday. It was a cool experience and very surreal. I miss qualifying on Monday and head back to LA. I forget about the awareness drills.