Do you golf like a gorilla or a surgeon?

What kind of personality do you play to on the golf course?  Are you constantly trying to muscle up, bust the driver, and hit all the par fives in two?  Do you get your greatest thrill from thrilling others?  Or are you calculating and planning, dissecting every move and possibility down to the finest detail?  However you play, your course personality should fit your everyday personality, or you are going to struggle.

Just finished reading Gia Valiante’s “Fearless Golf” and his point of identifying if you are a ego-based or mastery-based player resonated well.  Phil Mickelson is the classic ego-based player who derives his greatest pleasure from wooing people with his extraordinary short game and daring recovery skills.  Sure he loves to win and definitely comes to the course with a game plan, but you see him time and again chuck the plan and take the daredevil approach.  Sometimes it plays out, as it did with his 6-iron through the pine trees at Augusta, other times he implodes under the weight of his own ego, as was the case on the 72nd hole at the 2006 U.S. Open.  As these unspeakables unfold, we ask ourselves, “how can he be so stupid?” but Phil is the consummate gambler on and off the course and it makes sense for him to play to his personality.  Is this you?

Or do you play like Jim Furyk?  Seems like he always has a plan, sticks to the plan, and nobody’s opinion of him or his swing is going to change that plan.  This is the mastery-based approach, where you execute on your skills, only play shots that you practice, and calculate risk/reward for every aspect of the game.  I’m known as a planner off the course and play to this personality (the surgeon) on the course.  When I cross from surgeon to gorilla, I pay a dear price.  A few years ago during a mid-summer round when everything was dry and rolling out, I hit a few par-5 holes in two and managed to drain an eagle putt.  All of a sudden I had gained the capacity to overpower courses and it took some very bad scoring for the balance of the year and some serious self examination to determine root cause.  It doesn’t make sense for a surgeon to play like a gorilla and in the same regard, someone like Phil Mickelson probably is more effective taking risks and riding the roller coasters.

To help you self-identify, consider:  Would you rather shoot even par for 18 holes by making five birdies, three bogeys, and a double bogey, or making 18 pars?