17 Pickleball hacks from Golf
By: CJ Johnson | July 28, 2017 |

17 Pickleball Lessons and Life Hacks from Golf

What can a golf tournament teach us about pickleball, and how to live a better life on and off the courts? If it was Jordan Spieth’s Open Championship win, the answer is a lot!

Last weekend was not a run of the mill golf tournament, and it’s now evident, Jordan Spieth, the eventual winner, is no ordinary 23-year-old. (He turned 24 a few days after the tournament). His ability to face external and internal adversity made it clear that he poses a unique mental toughness most people twice his age haven’t mastered. Here are 17 life lessons from the nuggets of wisdom he shared during the post-round press conference. These little gems can be applied to challenges big and small in our daily lives.

For those of you who are not golf fans or didn’t get to watch, let me set the stage. Going into the final round of the British Open Championship, Jordan started the day with a three-shot lead. A rocky tee shot on the first hole resulted in a bogey, and the edge was now two.  Not exactly a confidence builder or the way you hope to start any event.

At that point, most golf fans and perhaps even Spieth himself immediately flashed back to the 2016 Masters. Jordan had a five-shot lead with nine holes left to play and failed to win the tournament.

After bogeys on holes 3 and 4, it felt like you were watching a Masters repeat, a horror movie from which you just can’t turn away.

When he hit his tee shot on 13 as I often say, right of right, from the outside looking in, it appeared as if all hopes of another major for Jordan had faded. Most of us would have been finished, but not Spieth. He displayed an almost unbelievable level of mental toughness to go on and win by 3 to become the Championship Golfer of the Year. It was a wild ride!

What his performance displayed and subsequent press conference unveiled was a brief glimpse into the mind of a champion. Lessons that each of us can take and apply to the challenges we face in sport or our daily lives to master ourselves and grow into the person we desire to be.

17 Life Lessons from Jordan Spieth’s Open Championship Win

1. Self-Doubt

How many times has self-doubt been your Achilles heel?

Jordan eloquently told the press about this blatant form of self-sabotage. “Thoughts come into my mind from the last time I was leading a major (The Masters) on Sunday. All of a sudden, it kind of creeps into your head, and the wheels just come off.” Does that sound remotely familiar to anyone?

We all face self-doubt, even the best in the world, and it’s a formidable enemy! I’m reminded of the phrase, “If you think you CAN your right, and if you think you CAN’T your right.”

What do you think about your chances of success?

2. Negative Self Talk

If self-doubt has a cousin, it’s negative self-talk.

When Jordan made a comparison to the Masters, he said, “I didn’t do much wrong, just a couple of bad swings. In my own head, how could I not close out of five-shot lead with nine holes to play?”

“We walk for two minutes, three minutes in between shots, and you can’t just go blank. You wish you could, but thoughts creep in.”

Working with thousands of individuals over the span of my career, the level and depth of negative self-talk, most people indulge in never ceases to amaze me. In golf or life, you need to learn to be your own best friend.

My favorite self-talk check, ‘If I talked to you the way you talk to yourself, would we still be friends?”

If the answer is no, STOP IT!

3. Don’t be afraid to explore unconventional options

On the 13th hole, as the wheels were coming off, Jordan had the composure to slow down and ask a few questions of the rules official. That led him to realize he had an option most people would have missed, but one that ultimately led him to success.

When you are under pressure, and things aren’t going your way do you stop, take a breath and reevaluate?

4. The willingness to change your mind

Jordan’s caddy gave him yardage from an unusual place, and it was significantly different from Spieth’s original calculations. Under normal conditions from unique locations, Spieth is usually more comfortable with his conclusions, but “He seems very confident, and he was very adamant about what club to hit, and it gave me the confidence to hit it. Sometimes when that happens, I’ll still go with what I think, but he was right on.”

Are you open to input from others and willing to change your direction based on their contribution?

5. The best rarely get there alone

“He (Michael his Caddy) and Cameron (coach) have been very important in the mental side of the game for me in the past couple of years dealing with my own expectations and dealing with coming off a year like 2015 and trying to get a game plan and set goals. I owe them both a lot.”

Some people have an amazingly supportive group of family and friends, and others are not so fortunate.  Look closely at the five people with which you spend the most time. Are they a sound support system? If not, CHANGE IT!

6. Hard times help you appreciate good times

Two thousand fifteen was a breakout year for Jordan, winning 2 out of 4 majors, the PGA scoring title, PGA Player of the Year, and ultimately world #1. There were plenty of expectations in 2016, but after the Master’s collapse, he struggled and dropped to #3 in the world rankings.

“I’m going to thoroughly enjoy this. I look back on 2015 and thought I enjoyed it, but I never really realized the significance until you kind of hit a low, a pitfall to appreciate the high. This is as much of a high as I’ve ever experienced in my golfing life, and I’m going to enjoy it more than I’ve enjoyed anything that I’ve accomplished,” he said after his win.

7. Celebrate your success

When reflecting on the eagle putt that ultimately propelled him to victory, he mused, “If I could redo it, I would have done a big fist pump in celebration. I don’t think I enjoyed that eagle as much as I should have.”

How many times have you done something special or achieved a long time goal to simply greet it with a smile and move on to the next task on the list? STOP IT!

Dance with joy and celebrate your wins, no matter how small they seem. You never know how long it will be before the next one!

8. Believe in Yourself

Michael Phelps, Jordan, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, Atlanta Falcons defensive end Dwight Freeney, Michael Jordan and golfer Fred Couples

While still on the front nine when Jordan was struggling, his caddy pulled him aside, “He goes, I got something to say to you. Remember that group that you were with?” (Michael was referring to the athletes in this picture). “You’re that caliber of an athlete, but I need you to believe that right now because you’re in a great position to win this tournament.”

Later Jordan reflected on his caddie’s sage wisdom, “That picture in Cabo there’s some special athletes in there. What is it about what you think internally as an athlete that allows you to summon that burst?  I think just a little bit of belief. Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps are the greatest to ever do it. I’m not, but if you believe that you are, then you’re almost as good as being that. It’s so hard in that situation to believe that, but just having just the slightest bit of belief makes you so confident. “

If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

9. Your perspective can be a game-changer

“While I was over some of those key three to four-footers that I made those weren’t easy, Those three footers were (looked like) ten footers to me. Then all of a sudden, the lid came off, and the thirty footers were two footers to me.”

Does your perspective help your belief or hurt it?

10. Don’t underestimate the power of Momentum

He walked off the 13th with a bogey, and in second place. The crowds probably thought he was a goner, but not his caddy. It was the second statement that his caddy made that stuck in Jordan’s head.

“Michael held me up, and he goes, that’s a momentum shift right there. All I needed to do was believe. I was starting to feel it but when he was feeling it, and he was saying that’s a momentum shift I felt and believed that I could win that golf tournament when 30 minutes prior and really the entire day after the fourth hole I didn’t feel that way.”

Do you have Momentum in your life? More importantly, which way is it taking you?” quote= “Do you have Momentum in your life? More importantly, which way is it taking you?”

11. Even the best get uncomfortable

“I was still uncomfortable, but after the putt on the 13th, I felt a lot more comfortable because I felt I made a putt that really mattered. That just was enough to say we’re still in this tournament. (I was) still uncomfortable, but I  was able to take that shift that I’m talking about where your minds going through a bunch of different thoughts and take it over to the other side.”

Are you willing to do things and be in situations that make you uncomfortable to grow?

12. Practice will make you better but not perfect

“No matter how many times the more you do it, the more scenarios you’ve gone through, the more you’re prepared for, and that helps.”

Do you spend adequate time practicing the things you want to master? Are you willing to keep trying if you don’t master it?

13. You don’t always have to be your best

“I didn’t have my best putting stuff, which is normally what has won me tournaments, but I was still able to close the deal. I’ve been mentioned as putting well this week. I didn’t, I just hadn’t felt like I had done that even though I had some go in. I was able to win without really putting well at all (at the Travelers), and that prepared me for the feelings I had on the green. That I can still win even if I do have these kinds of feelings.”

When you know you’re not on your A-game, what do you do?

14. Don’t compare yourself to others

When I reporter asked him about the inevitable comparisons to Jack and Tiger, he quipped, “I don’t compare myself, and I don’t think that they’re appropriate or necessary.”

Please show me any good that has ever happened from trying to keep up with others.

15. Know what’s important

A reporter asked Jordan about his priorities. He responded, “My faith and then my family and then after that, this is what I love to do. But when you’re out there oftentimes, you’re not thinking about the stuff that’s more important to you. Unfortunately, that didn’t come into my mind necessarily, and it probably should have and would have helped.”

Before the start of any golf tournament, I always reminded myself that regardless of the day’s outcome, my family was still going to love me, and my cats believe I am the greatest human on the planet.

What’s the cornerstone of your life?

16. Count your blessings

“I feel blessed to be able to play the game I love,” he said with a smile and a deep sense of gratitude.

Have trouble counting your blessings? Commit to a gratitude journal for a month. Every day write five things that you are grateful for daily without repeats for the week.

17.  Humility

The dictionary defines humility as a modest or low view of one’s importance; humbleness.

He is undoubtedly humble in a day and age where it seems to be a forgotten quality. My ego rarely appears to be as right-sized as his, but he has given me a great role model to imitate.

Applying just one of the 17 life lessons to your challenges in pickleball, golf, skiing, or wherever you are stuck and lacking forward progress. Pull out a piece of paper, pick the one that resonates with you the most, and take action on it today. I DARE YOU!

Jordan told his caddy after the round. “Seventeen pars and a birdie, he would have been fine too, but you know there’s a lot of roads to get there.” Well said Jordan, but it wouldn’t have been so much fun to watch and none of us, yourself included would have learned so many life lessons

Which of the 17 life lessons did you commit to changing today? Leave a comment down below.

Please feel free to share 17 Life Lessons from Jordan Spieth’s Open Win with someone you know. They might need this too.

CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)