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Does losing make you a better winner?

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Last year we saw Rory Mcilroy fall apart on Sunday to lose at the Masters, only to see him rebound and win the US Open in equally spectacular fashion. Last week, Kyle Stanley spins his ball back past the hole, into the water, then three putts for an 8 then lose in a playoff to Brandt Snedecker. In January 2007 Brandt Snedeker shoots a course record 61 at the Buick Invitational and follows it with a 74 to lose the tournament, but rebounds in August for his first win.

 

A couple of years ago I was in a position to win a come from behind match and advance in the club championship. I was in perfect position in the fairway, and just knew I had a birdie. My opponent was 50 yards behind me. He hit his 5 feet from the flag, I hit mine fat and wanted to throw up as I watched it bounce into the bunker. I did not chip in, and he did not miss his birdie putt. Now that I look back on it, he did won it more than I lost it. He hit a great shot adding pressure on me. If I would have hit a good shot, and he would have won anyway was one thing, but I caved in under the pressure. Last year, I won my flight but bitterness of blowing that opportunity has not left me.

 

Does losing a tournament or a match help you win later? If so, how has it help you.


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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I definitely think it mentally makes you tougher. It also makes you think differently about pressure and how you handle it. I know I perform much better when not under pressure, to the point where I will avoid it and try to put it on my opponent. I use that knowledge to help me win, but it didn't take losing to get me to that point, just some thinking. I was in a match a few years ago and I was 1 up on 18, with honors. I noticed he had driver on a somewhat tight driving hole, so I took 3w and put it dead center of the fairway, leaving myself a perfect 9i in. With me being in the middle, he tried to nuke one and pushed it behind a tree right. I ended up hitting first and stuck it to 15'; he had to punch out into the fairway and ended up making a double. Some learn these things from losing, some learn by knowing how they'd react in certain situations.

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I think that to a degree the losing does not make you better, but the experience of playing with that type of pressure makes you a better player. I played golf in college and quite a bit in the Philly section of PGA for the last ten or so years and I can tell you that level of competition makes you a better player all around. I grew up playing golf and was a good player but very, very, very inexperienced when I started playing college golf. I had the normal jitters just about every time that I put a tee in the ground for a competitive round since I just had never played in that environment before. I honestly feel that the reason you saw Rory and more recently Kyle Stanly bounce back so qickly was that they got to feel that pressure for the first time and it gets easier the second and third time that you do it since you almost know what to expect. I can say that the same is true without a failure as well and it all comes down to how you handle the situation within the 6 inches of space between your ears. How many more majors would Phil have won if he just thought about the situation (or some may argue if he just hit it without thinking)?


In the Bag for 2020

PXG 0811XF Gen 2 10.5* (set at 9*) AD VR 6x

PXG 0341X Gen 2 15* AD TP 7x

PXG 0317X Gen 2 19* KBS Proto 95x

PXG 0311T Gen 3 4-6 KBS $ Taper 130

PXG 0311 ST 7 - PW KBS $ Taper 130

PXG 0311 Sugar Daddy 50/10 KBS $ Taper 130

PXG 0311 Sugar Daddy 54/10 & 58/07 TTDG TI S400

:rife-putters-1: Two Bar Blade Long 47"

 

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Just read an old Golf Digest where Fred Couples attributed his loss in the Ryder Cup singles match as the catalyst for his rise to number one in the world and win two years later in the masters.


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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Losing doesn't make you better, but it sure as makes you want to lose less.


I have a revolving WITB policy.

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This is a really good thread, and I think the answer is: it depends on your personality. It makes me think of something Coach K used to say which I always agreed with. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially the thought was, "I hate losing way more than I like winning."

 

To answer your question and relate my quote, I think that losing isn't necessary, but occasionally you "need" to lose to remind yourself how much you hate it. It's exceptionally hard to stay at the top of the game, work your hardest every day, without that occasional reminder.


Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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I think that to a degree the losing does not make you better, but the experience of playing with that type of pressure makes you a better player.

 

 

I have always loved golf but could not break 100 until 2008 or so. In 2009 I decided that I was going to become a single digit handicap, an "A" player in the scrambles, and win the club championship. This was the first match I had ever competed in like that and the first step in the process. I was totally unprepared for the pressure a golf match can put on you.

 

Laat year, I competed in 6 and came in first or tied for first everytime, and the pressure was intense each time. I was thinking it was the loss but the acclimation to the pressure is huge. In one match (match play) I started horribly, OB on the first four holes, water on the next two. Six holes down - 12 to play, 4 holes down with 4 to play, tied it up on 18 and won on the seventh playoff hole. I withstood that pressure.

 

Interesting concept. The final round of the championship was decided on who can handle the pressure.

 

Maybe the final round of every golf tournament is decided on who can handle pressure.

 

Look at the last months worth of golf tournaments. Is this why it is so rare for the third round leader to win?


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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I think it depends alot on a person's personality, but I think losing can definitely make a person better. Many times in competitive golf, it comes down to one or two critical shots that makes the difference. Getting yourself into a competitive mindset and failing can teach you something about yourself and your game and better prepare you for the next time you are in that situation. For myself, I always know when I made the critical error. Either a bad decision on the course or just a plain old bad swing at the wrong time. But nothing feels better than standing over a shot you know is critical and executing it. Whether its a necessary high risk shot that you pull off; or stuffing an iron in close when you need it; or pouring a long putt in on top of someone to stay alive in a match. Conquering your doubts and your nerves, clearing your head and letting your body do what you've worked so hard to teach it to do that one time when it matters. . .for me, that feeling is like a drug and that is why I like competitive golf so much. For me, succeeding is so much better than failing is bad. I don't like to fail, but I don't let it tear me up to much. I know I'm not great at this game, but I love the fact that it lets everyone of any ability challenge themselves and find those moments and experience the joy of success and agony of defeat should they choose to partake.


Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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Phil Mickelson certainly seemed to become a better winner and learn from his mistakes. Much has been made of his use of the driver on the 18th hole followed by another make it or break it shot at the US Open, where he was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But Sunday, with a two shot lead on the par 5 18th at Pebble he went 4 iron - 4 iron - wedge to make birdie and seal the win. Bones did not even have to wrestle with him to make it happen. Actually, in an interview I saw, Mickelson credits Bones as being spot on all week making great calls of when to be aggressive and when to play it safe.


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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Don't know if it makes you better, but it definitely makes you more determined. It steams me when I lose out of my own mistakes instead of someone just playing better. It doesn't hurt as much when you play your best and someone else just has a career day and beats you. But when I cost myself shots from boneheaded plays, yeah, I get pissed.


In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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Phil Mickelson certainly seemed to become a better winner and learn from his mistakes. Much has been made of his use of the driver on the 18th hole followed by another make it or break it shot at the US Open, where he was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But Sunday, with a two shot lead on the par 5 18th at Pebble he went 4 iron - 4 iron - wedge to make birdie and seal the win. Bones did not even have to wrestle with him to make it happen. Actually, in an interview I saw, Mickelson credits Bones as being spot on all week making great calls of when to be aggressive and when to play it safe.

 

From the coverage that I saw Phil actually tried to disagree with Bones and it lasted about four seconds. That being said it is teamwork and as a team they made a better decision as a team and learned from past mistakes.


In the Bag for 2020

PXG 0811XF Gen 2 10.5* (set at 9*) AD VR 6x

PXG 0341X Gen 2 15* AD TP 7x

PXG 0317X Gen 2 19* KBS Proto 95x

PXG 0311T Gen 3 4-6 KBS $ Taper 130

PXG 0311 ST 7 - PW KBS $ Taper 130

PXG 0311 Sugar Daddy 50/10 KBS $ Taper 130

PXG 0311 Sugar Daddy 54/10 & 58/07 TTDG TI S400

:rife-putters-1: Two Bar Blade Long 47"

 

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There are a number of different reactions a person can have in competition when the pressure rises and some of these reactions will inhibit performance. As you encounter these reactions under pressure, you can learn to deal with them. One example is that time seems to speed up. Your mind races faster and faster and you make poor decisions. You don't realize this is happening until after the round. You then ask yourself, "Why didn't I just slow down?" Another example is that you become overly cautious and try too hard. You start thinking of how to avoid all the bad things that can happen. I think Charlie Wi four-putting the first green at Pebble was an example of this. He is normally a really good putter. I suspect he just got too careful and altered his normal putting routine. He was OK after he walked off that green and I bet he learned something from that.

 

These are just two examples. It's a matter of learning to deal with the reactions that pressure creates. The more times you compete under pressure, the more times you begin to experience these different reactions. You have to learn to deal with each of them before you can play your best.

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I have been working hard on being a better pressure player. One way i do that is plan the holes in advance. And then finalize that plan on the tee box based on the weather. I then have a little longer preshot routine where i rehearse the impact position. I have a conservative plan but an agressive swing. I actually use a hybrid off or the tee on 5 par 4's and 1 par 5 now. In 10 matches over the last 2 weeks, I won 9 in a row, but I lost the last one. The reason I lost was because on 4 holes, I changed my plan. Obviously, after your tee shot you have to evaluate the situation and decide your next shot. The problem, actually problems, was that on four occassions, I hit my tee shot exactly where I wanted. This was huge because there was a 35 mph wind. Anyway, on these holes I found myself standing in the fairway and instead of taking the club that I had planned on, I took a different club and playing it a different way.

 

On the 7th hole, the narrow fairway doglegs left with trees on both sides, the tee box is offset so you have to go over trees. It is 230 yards to clear the trees which is next to impossible into a 35 mph wind. the green is on a knob of land in the lake. It is very exposed. The plan was to hit a hybrid into the fairway. Then hit it again up the left side and hope it ran on the green. If not I would have an easy pitch to the hole. However, after being in the fairway I decided if I hit a 3 wood I could get on the back of the green and have a short birdie putt. My two competitors were already deep in the trees and having to punch out, still 180 yards away having to go into the wind. I had no reason to go for it. A bogey would win the hole probably. But I turned put the hybrid back in the bag and hit the three wood, which got up in the air, and the wind took it right, it went down the hill and I found myselt 70 yards right of the hole, having to go over the lake's dam. under a tree, up a hill, over a bunker, short sided with the green running away. I double bogied the hole because I was stupid. I did that 3 more times. I lost by two strokes. I learned a valuable lesson, that hopefully I will remember for some time. I later turned an eagle opportunity into a bogey, and a birdie into a bogey.


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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