Being Thankful and Gracious

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation”. – Brian Tracy

Being thankful and gracious are two topics that I catch myself emphasizing over and over again in my articles, evaluations and seminars but it simply can not be said enough, especially in today’s world. While you may not think about the importance of these when it comes to college recruiting, they really can set you apart from so many others who don’t take the time to be thankful or gracious. And not only in regards to college recruiting, they simply teach you two qualities that are so important in the world today and can even help to improve your mental state on the golf course.

With Thanksgiving coming up, take the time to tell those in your life thank you for what they do for you. Parents, coaches, instructors, teachers and teammates all play a vital role in your success on and off the golf course. The junior tour directors, staff and volunteers put in a lot of hours to run a quality golf tournament. A simple thank you can go a long way to showing your appreciation. A handwritten thank you can REALLY go a long way!

On the golf course, the college coaches are watching for the small things you may do, or don’t do that shows you are grateful and respectful. Do you show respect to the other competitors, what about to your parents? When your parents try to offer you snacks or help with your stuff, do you kindly decline or do you give them a sassy attitude? When you aren’t playing well do you treat the others in your group differently than if you were playing well? Do you say thank you to the tournament staff and volunteers? All of these are scenarios that can easily sway a coach’s decision to recruit you or not.

Over the last few months we have read about or witnessed natural disasters, criminal violence and terrorist acts that have taken innocent lives and caused massive destruction. There are also millions of people in this world who don’t have clean water, enough food or a roof over their head but they still wake up every day determined to make the most of their time. I realize that as an aspiring junior golfer you may feel pressure to play well so that you can earn scholarship money to play golf in college but always keep it in perspective and remember what is important.

When I say that I understand what it’s like to deal with playing golf under pressure I don’t just say it to show sympathy to the young players. I worked my tail off as a junior golfer to earn a scholarship to play in college, yes I had to have the money in order to attend college, but I played because I loved it and wanted the chance to move on to the next level. Then on a totally different level I spent 8 years playing professionally, where each week meant the difference between making or losing money, sometimes the difference in paying bills that month or not. Talk about feeling the pressure to play well!

But after being removed from competitive golf for 5 years now, and being a tad older and wiser, it gives you a different perspective on the pressures of playing golf. One of the best ways to help get your mind in a good place is to take a few minutes before you tee off to simply reflect on the chance you have to be playing golf that day. It may not seem like a big deal that you have the chance to compete and play golf, but to many it isn’t an option. Take a few seconds to take some deep breaths, smell the fresh cut grass, embrace the atmosphere around you and just appreciate that you are there in that moment.

Then when you find yourself getting upset on the course, remind yourself that making a bogey (or a double, or a triple) really means so little in the whole scheme of things. It’s easy to let that consume your mind, but stop for a second and think about something that helps you put it into perspective. When you get caught up in the moment on the golf course sometimes you may forget that you are actually extremely lucky and blessed to be on the golf course and playing the sport you love. Be thankful and be gracious!

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