One golfer’s obstacles is another’s opportunity. That’s exactly what happened during the
the Wells Fargo Championship. Nine players dropped off the roster due to poor conditions of the
greens at Quail Hollow. This created an open spot for 22-year-old UNLV student, Derek Ernst.
His hard work at Q-school earned him playing privileges this season. He came into the
competition with a world ranking of 1,207, as an unknown. With his win at the Wells Fargo
Championship he’s been bumped up to the top 125, not bad for a rookie.
Upleveling contributed to Ernst’s win on the tour. By this I mean that he developed a clear vision to play pro. This matters because many golfers wait to practice more seriously only once they’ve reached the next level of play. To uplevel your performance you’ve got to practice now as if you’ve already moved up. Don’t wait until you advance to start practicing more seriously.
Follow these steps to uplevel your mindset and play like a PGA Pro:
1. Connection: Ernst wasn’t thinking about winning, how he played the previous hole, or having to make up a shot. Instead he focused all of his attention on the shot before him right now.
2. Changes: He was prepared for a sudden change in plans. Ernst was on his way to play a Web.com Tour event when he received the late notice about the Wells Fargo
Championship. He adapted to the wet conditions of the course, making necessary
adjustments to his game and club selection.
3. Congruency: Ernst’s personal values and his actions are aligned. He’s doing everything he can to be on the PGA tour. Because of his win he now has a secure spot on the PGA tour for the next two years.
4. Confidence: Playing with Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and other top golfers could have been intimidating. But he didn’t allow the pressure to throw off his game.
5. Character: Some of the players never heard of Ernst until he won the tournament. Until the very end he stayed, controlling his tempo, and confident to hold his own until the very end.
6. Continue: Derek Ernst is in the beginning stages of his career. During the next two years he’ll gain new insights with each new experience. The trick is to consistently push a little beyond his comfort zone. He walked away with $1.2 million in prize money. Instead of thinking he’s got it easy, now’s when he needs to set the next challenge so he continues to improve his game.
I’m challenging you to uplevel your mindset. Train like you’re already on the PGA Tour. It’ll keep you focused, even under pressure.
Challenge: Uplevel means to “act as if” you’ve already reached your goal. Consider how that
would increase your confidence, strengthen your mindset and take your game to the next level.
Begin with small shifts in attitude and then gradually go big. Upleveling moves you closer to
Photo by Steven Gibbons/USGA