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Eighty-seven of the world’s finest golfers will tee it up this week with hopes to win the Masters Tournament, golf’s grandest stage. These players represent the past, present and future of the game. And while no one knows who will be victorious on Sunday afternoon, I have a pretty good idea as to the qualities and attributes that will win.
First, purely on a statistical basis, this should be the easiest tournament to win. Since the Masters hosts by far the smallest field of entrants, each player has the best odds of winning. Factoring out the 20 or so participants who were invited because either they won the event a long time ago, or are budding amateurs, the likely field of people with a realistic winning chance becomes even smaller. Add to that the number of players not in top form or those who’s games are not suited for the course or simply don’t believe they belong there, and you are left with perhaps 30-40 players with a real shot at winning the green jacket. This contrasts to over a hundred players who have a very real chance of winning any other professional golf tournament on any given week.
While the chances of a player winning The Masters, from a mathematical sense, are the greatest, the actual winning of the tournament on golf’s grandest stage is probably the hardest. This is because it’s the Masters, it has the history, the reputation, it is the most viewed event, it is the most coveted tournament and the one kids dreams of winning. Even the most casual fans know what the green jacket is and what Augusta National means to the world of golf. The pressure of winning this event is simply higher than anywhere else.
But beyond the aura, winning the Masters requires every skill a golfer possesses. It is physically demanding. It requires players to not only be long off the tee, but shape their shots perfectly. It requires hitting approach shots with pinpoint accuracy to Lilliputian targets. It demands nerves of steel with your short game and your putting and any error near the greens often appears outright embarrassing. None other than Tiger Woods in 2005 stroked a putt a bit harder than he wanted to and saw the ball roll across the green into the water. (Of course, Woods did end up winning the event that year.)
The Masters is almost always competitive with the winner usually being decided late Sunday afternoon. In fact, since the tournaments inception in 1934, the vast majority of champions have won by a margin of two strokes or less (and often requiring a playoff).
Winning the Masters is hard and requires bringing together every attribute that drives exceptional performance. Below I highlight four attributes that are necessary for winning the Masters. These factors apply to every field and you can use them to achieve excellence in your domain.
- Aptitude: The recently retired tagline for the PGA Tour “These Guys Are Good” could not be truer. This year’s contenders have an insane amount of natural talent. And while they have honed this skill through decades of practice, they all start with a huge amount of talent and natural ability. No amount of effort, grit and practice (not even 10,000 hours) will make you exceptional if you don’t start in an area where you have natural aptitude. While all golfers teeing it up at the Masters are operating in the area where they have natural aptitude, the winner will be the one who lets that natural talent come out most effectively. The one who trusts himself and gets out of his own way.
- Self-Belief: The winner of this years Masters will be one that has the inner-belief that he can win and is better than everyone else this week. In psychology this belief is called self-efficacy and without it you are not going to win. You have to believe deep within yourself that this is your time. Not just saying the words, but truly believing them. Exceptional performance starts with the unwavering belief that you can be successful. You simply can’t let yourself believe you are capable of making mistakes (even though you may). Any degree of self-doubt erases the possibilities of a high level of performance. This also means that you have simply one goal with no plan B.
- Grounded in Knowledge: Exceptional performance requires a high degree of knowledge. And the body of knowledge required is not static. It is increasing and growing in complexity. If any player comes in knowing what they knew last year, it simply won’t be enough. There are new conditions, new players, new science in golf, and you need to believe you have more insight than everybody else. You need to know the course, the conditions, yourself, your opponents and every other factor that gives you an edge. Increasing knowledge and increasing complexity are a given in any endeavor. Most people think it is enough to have expertise in their field or domain. Yes, that is important, but it is knowledge in parallel domains that give you the edge. This is why the top players have more knowledge than ever in nutrition, mental science, physics, technology, philosophy, bio-mechanics and a host of other areas.
- Micro-excellence: Being exceptional is never a result of few big decisions or few pivotal actions. It is the cumulative effect of achieving excellence in countless little things. A series of small steps that I call micro-excellence. Depending on the final score, this year’s winner will hit approximately 275 shots over a four-day period. This means 275 instances of micro-excellence. 275 instances of making decisions, executing them, staying focused, and recovering from a previous mishap or poor choice. Coming down the stretch some of these instances will have more of an impact on the final score than others. For example, a three-foot putt to win the Masters will certainly feel different than a three-foot putt on Thursday afternoon, but if you get in the habit of excelling at small moments, this will translate to the times when the moments are big.
There are other attributes that drive exceptional performance, but I believe these four will be the most pivotal. Not just for the winner this week, but for you to win in whatever you attempt. The fundamental attributes that drive excellence cut across disciplines and in order to perform at a high level, your best bet is to understand them and apply them.
April 10, 2019 at 01:24PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs