I appreciate good quotes. I define a meaningful quote as one which is short, to the point, but at the same time contains layers of meaning which can be applied to many different areas of one’s life. It is for this reason that I really enjoy biographies. I often find so many statements made by individuals that have been successful in their field which I myself can apply to my own pursuits.
Below are a list of ten quotes, from athletes outside of golf, which can serve to assist any golfer with the never-ending pursuit of improvement.
“Set a goal, make a plan, work tirelessly, achieve, repeat.”
- George St. Pierre
The Canadian UFC champion teaches us that in order to improve at something, it is important to make sure that you are aware of exactly how you plan to improve. Without a plan, a goal is simply a wish. Notice too that his quote does not say, “Try to achieve”. This speaks to the importance of having confidence and an eager expectation that you will in fact be successful in your pursuit.
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
- Michael Jordan
One of the great hindrances of performance in any area of life is the fear of failure. Anxiety resulting from a concern over outcomes prevents experiencing the freedom to try, and in turn the opportunity to succeed. One of the main reasons why Michael Jordan is considered by most as the best basketball player of all-time is because he focused on what he wanted to accomplish, but had no concern about failing. As the above quote makes very clear, Jordan understood the importance of seeking immediate success, while using failures to prepare for future victories.
“You will not rise to the occasion, you will fall to the level of your preparation”
Tthe Greek poet Archilochos must have been an athlete in some of the original Olympic games in Greece. If I’m being honest, I can’t say that I completely agree with this quote. There have been times where I have come off the course after a tournament round wondering how I managed to post the score that I did. Therefore, while I do believe there are times where you achieve success despite your lack of preparation, I also believe that this quote should be accepted as factual. Believing that you will fall to the level of your preparation will assist in keeping you focused on what needs to be done to fully prepare for any upcoming competition.
“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”
- Mike Singletary
The former pro football player, and coach, can help golfers put the game into perspective: It’s a game that is meant to be enjoyed. The minute it begins to feel like work, not only are you sucking the joy out of it, but in doing so you are likely hindering performance. We play our best golf when we do exactly that….play!
"There's always someone out there training for your spot. For my scholarship at the University of Florida, for my job with the Denver Broncos, for my position with the New York Jets. And that’s the reason to get up earlier or stay up later. I always love training at crazy times—it’s an edge I’m creating over everyone else. So when I step on to the field, I know the person across from me didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to do this. He didn’t put in the work that I did. So when I meet him, I’m going to win .”
- Tim Tebow
When you create a plan of action for improvement, do not just be strategic in a physical manner, but a psychological one as well. Whatever plan for improvement you come up with, it is important to make sure that it gives you a competitive edge that comes from an inner confidence that you are much better prepared than your opponents.
“You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave–win or lose.”
- Gordie Howe
While it is important to never be passive in the effort you put into your golf pursuits, “Mr. Hockey” provides us with some insight regarding the proper attitude to have following competition. If you know that you did everything that you could to prepare, you can accept however the chips fell in that particular competition. Too often we can fall into the trap of only being pleased when we have won, but this is a dangerous attitude. Golf is a game of failures, and we will always fail more than we succeed. If you are only ever content with winning results, not only will you quickly suck the joy out of the game, but you will begin to be so focused on end results, that you prevent yourself from staying in the moment while you compete. You should want to win - it is healthy to expect that you will win - but you will hurt your chances of doing so if you get ahead of yourself and think about the end results instead of focusing on the moment you are currently in while competing.
“You can always be a little bit better”
- Drew Brees
A simple statement, and very good news. We can always get better, and we should focus on doing so a little bit at a time. Golfers get themselves in trouble when they try to work on too many aspects of their game at one time. By focusing on improving in smaller increments, it allows for one’s confidence to remain intact, and prevents against their game getting “lost” in all the changes.
“I don’t care what they say about me when I’m through with sports. I don’t want to be known as anything else in life but a great father.”
- Deion Sanders
It is important to keep your priorities straight. When golf begins to intrude in more essential areas of your life, things get out of balance. When such conflict occurs, it only hurts the areas of your life which are involved - including your golf game. There is a freedom which comes from keeping priorities straight.
“A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.”
- Mary Lou Retton
Go for the trophy, but make sure you enjoy the process. Not only will this make the pursuit more meaningful, it will make it less like work, and more like play. If you’re going to pursue it, you might as well enjoy the process of getting there.
“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.”
- Jackie Joyner-Kersee
The beauty about golf is the fact that you can virtually play for as long as you can stand upright and swing. Unlike other sports, golf even has a professional tour for seniors which in itself proves that regardless of age, you can always be seeking to become a better player. This is good news for young and old alike. For those who are younger, your best days in golf very well may be in front of you, and for those past their primes, it doesn’t mean you can’t compete and continue to enjoy the game.
About the Author
This article was written by Jonathan Carr (@jonathanwcarr) as part of our weekly 'Top 10' series. As a scratch golfer himself, Jonathan has a keen eye for what it takes to be successful on and off the golf course. His passion for golf is surpassed only by his passion for his faith and his family.
Read some of Jonathan's other articles here.