Which camp do you fall in? When you play your best on the golf course how do you feel, confident or cocky? Try to align yourself with one of today’s top professionals. Jason Day is confident. Henrik Stenson is confident. Dustin Johnson is surprisingly confident and a little bit humble. Just look at Rory McIlroy’s gait when he is winning. Tremendously cocky. Jordan Speith has transitioned from a cocky youth to confident consummate professional. When he was at his peak, Tiger Woods was the most cocky AND confident player on the planet. Now he exhibits neither, which is why I’m skeptical of his comeback attempt. Phil Mickelson, the ultimate showman, is both. Bottom line: To play effectively, you need one or the other.
WARNING ALARM! I hope this isn’t you. The last time I played my best, I was neither confident nor cocky but rather surprised. This is not a good state to be in. It was probably due to my lower level of preparation and infrequent play. However, five years ago, I was in an excellent hot streak and exhibited a high level of confidence. When I play and practice a lot, my confidence rises. Normally, I’m a 95% confident type, but when the 5% cocky appears, I’ll try some boneheaded shot that I haven’t practiced, which leads to a triple bogey. Have any of you confident types experienced this?
Our personality leads us to either a confident or cocky on-course persona and it’s best to play to your personality. Unless your on-course behavior is horrible, when we deviate from our personality is when we screw up. If you are a gregarious show-off, normally you’ll fall in the cocky camp and need to play as such to be comfortable, but if you’re a more quiet unassuming strategist, you’ll play as a confident type. This is why it took Phil Mickelson so long to adjust his on course behavior away from taking unnecessary risks that cost him several major championships. He’s still cocky at heart but has learned to become more of a tactician that always plays with a game plan. I think fans still love when “Phil The Thrill” comes out, but watch him in the majors and especially at The Masters. He’ll come out with a confident game plan and rarely deviates.
To be successful, you need one or the other. To find yours, think back when you were in competition and playing your best (and your worst). What did you have and what were you missing? As mentioned earlier, at my best I was supremely confident. At my worst I had nothing and was completely intimidated.
Confident vs. cocky; what works for you? Shoot me a comment with your type and a story if you’ve got one. Play well!