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Negative thoughts pivotal to avoid

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:42 p.m. CDT

Infinite possibilities are available before every golf shot. 

Yet first-tee jitters, intimidation from a certain playing partner or an undesirable wind direction are what players are most focused on when they ask Jake Thurm how to fix a mental approach they consider broken. 

The assistant general manager and lead instructor at Fresh Meadow Golf Course in Hillside said players should focus on what they can control. 

“In a pressurized situation we assign a different value to the situation which creates inhabitions,” Thurm said. “If you don’t like a playing partner, the ranger that is nearby or the direction of the wind, you’ve established an inhibition that will change your motor pattern.”

Last week, Thurm attended the British Open with his long-time friend and PGA Tour player Kevin Streelman. Adverse weather conditions are a notorious component of golf’s oldest major tournament and Streelman, who finished in a tie for 54th with a 2-over-par 290, was part of the draw that faced the toughest weather in the first round. 

When the wind and rain turned the umbrellas sideways Thursday morning, Thrum reminded his friend each shot demanded his attention.

“Everything around Kevin could have thrown him off,” Thurm said. “The wind, the golf course, the tradition of the tournament and the round pot bunkers were all there to throw him off his game. I asked him to keep a high commitment level and low tension level. It’s more important to be decisive than it is to be correct. When faced with adversity you can’t lack conviction.”

As the brisk winds, which

are a frequent part of a golf round in DeKalb County pick up, Thurm doesn’t stress a change in technique. Rather, a player should think of crisply struck golf shot using the motor patterns they’ve honed on the range and course over the years.  

“Simply focus on solid contact,” Thurm said. “That’s the number one thing. Then you can begin to take trajectory into account.”

While wind, rain and other adverse weather conditions are bound to eventually test every golfer, Thurm said they only become a negative when a golfer eliminates the possibility that a positive outcome is attainable. 

“Everyone, juniors, amateurs and even pros ask me how to avoid negative thoughts,” Thurm said. “I tell them a story about a dream I had where a plane crashes into me then I wake up suddenly during the night. When I go to work during the day, if a plane flies over I remember the dream. But, every time a plane flies over I don’t flinch. 

“Thoughts are the same way. It’s when we focus on them that they become valued. Nothing has happened before a shot is struck. Negative thoughts arise when we try to write the outcome of the story before the ending. Before we hit a shot we don’t know if the result will be good or bad. A situation is only a negative if you choose to look at it through that lense.” 

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