by Trent Thurston
Scottsdale, AZ - It's a beautiful Friday morning, and I'm out here on the Cochise course driving range at Desert Mountain Country Club, awaiting my appointment with Bernhard Langer. I have known Mr. Langer for a little over a year now, we have worked together at a few other golf tournaments, and he graciously obliged to do this interview with me.
For those that don't know, Bernhard Langer is a German professional golfer. He is a two-time Masters champion and was one of the world's leading golfers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Mr. Langer was only 15 years old when he turned professional, so he has lived the game of golf for nearly his entire life. It took him almost eight years to get his first professional victory. Some might think that after so much time in the loss categories why stick with it, well people, it all comes down to determination. Mr. Langer would have never gotten to where he is today if he had just given up and quit his dream.
As Mr. Langer and I casually struck balls on the range, the interview process was quite informal. We talked mostly about the game of golf in general. We started out about the current PGA and who he believes has got the best chances in the upcoming season. Of course, names like Jordan Spieth and Jason Day were right the mix, stating that he can see them both winning another major soon. Jordan's mental game is on point, the concentration just glares through his eyes, especially in his short game. Jason has one of the most mechanically perfect swings that Mr. Langer has seen in recent years. Hideki Matsuyama was pleasantly spoke about as well, Mr. Langer believes that he could have a big breakout season, with a possible major coming.
I then turned to Mr. Langer himself and asked more about him. I tried to stay on the mental aspects of his golf game. The first thing he gave me was a quip... Breathe, Aim, Fire. Control your breathing at address, it will help relieve pressure and will keep you focused on positive thoughts. Having an ingrained routine will help you under pressure. It keeps your thoughts positive and focused on the present.
To stay focused is the key to an accurate golf game. Too often one gets caught up in what is going on around them, physically and mentally. A golfer needs to stay in the moment. The most important shot for a golfer is the one he is currently taking. A golfer routinely thinks about that bad shot from two holes ago, or dwells on the possible outcome of their round. Not enough golfers remain in focused thought. After a while, all the negative thoughts compound and you break mentally. If you are going to get stuck on thoughts, make them good ones, like how you made that birdie, or the perfect push-draw you had earlier.
What helps Mr. Langer stay focused is his pre-shot routine. Every detail that he can control is accounted for, his breathing, vision, aim, etc. is all the same for every shot. When he feels the pressure building he uses a breathing technique that helps him calm his nerves and bring him back into focus. He will take a deep breath, exhale, take another good breath, and exhale half way, then fire. Mr. Langer has been using this technique for some time now, and as we can see, it looks to be working.
One last thing we had talked about was dedication, not just in golf, but in all aspects of life. If a man really wants to excel at something he must be passionate about it. Not everyone has the mental determination to withstand the drawbacks and failures that are handed to them. He must really take the time to grind it out. Mr. Langer didn't give in after eight years of no wins; Tiger Woods didn't practice only once a week. Thomas Edison didn't fail, he found 2000 ways not to make a lightbulb. What he is saying is, don't give up at the first signs of failure. Persevere, and all will eventually come into place.