One Last Chance to Realize My Golf Dreams

As I take one last attempt to realize my golf dreams, I decided to start blogging to practice what I preach, bring some accountability, and provide a window into my mental game work, goals, and process. If you’d like my latest post delivered right to your inbox, click here to added to the list.

 

As much as I’ve tried to shake my competitive golfing dreams, they won’t die. Ever since I was a kid I’ve dreamt of winning the U.S. Open. And while I know that’s likely not in the cards, I still want to play in one. Though still improbable, that’s a far more reasonable dream.

I always tell my clients they are free to dream as big as they can imagine, so long as they’re willing to make the hard choices required to give them a chance. I believe it is better to aim high and truly find out what you can do.

For a while this dream sat idle in the back of my mind while I focused on more practical concerns, like building my coaching business, writing books, and being a good husband and father. 

But a couple of years ago, as more space started to open up in my life, my golfing dreams came out of hiding. At 43 and beginning to stare into my own mortality, I realized this was my last opportunity to see what I can do as a golfer. I’m out of second chances. I can’t take another mulligan so to speak. Thus the name of this blog – “No More Mulligans.” 

Being inside the ropes with clients at a few PGA Tour events, including the Players, helped to further fan the fire. Having a front row seat to watch the best players in the world reminded me how much I love the game, being on the course, working on my game, and competing.

I’ve actually always considered myself to be my first client, since it was my mental hang-ups in big time tournament golf, like trying to qualify for the U.S. Open, that drove me into this field. And since I started coaching in 2005, I’ve been driven to help my clients, and all of you – readers of my books and blog – to improve and achieve your dreams. Now it’s my turn to give my game the same attention and dedication.

Btw, this is not a retirement from a coaching announcement. Nothing changes there. I’ve just been carving out more time within my existing life to make this happen.

 

Doing the Work

 

I started this resurrection of sorts by finding an instructor to work on my swing. At the time, my handicap was still a +1, even though I had been averaging only 12-15 rounds/year for the past decade. During grad school I knew that I wouldn’t have time to play or practice a lot, so I made it a priority to figure out how to still play great golf, and did! I kept my game up, and even qualified for the 2013 U.S. Mid-am (national tournament for the best amateurs over 25 years old), the first USGA event I qualified for, shooting a two-under par 70 in what was just my 12th round of golf that year.

While my scoring was still decent, I know there were a lot of compensations in my swing that would limit my upside. I was fortunate enough to live around the corner from Dom Dijulia, a top 100 instructor and someone I immediately connected with philosophically. His goal was not to immediately change my swing. Instead, he focused on how my body was naturally built and what I was capable of doing. I learned some incredible insights that began stripping away some of those compensations, and he helped me develop a rich understanding of how I swing the club best.

Dom was also connected with a personal trainer who is unlike any trainer that I’ve worked with before. Abi Engle is trained in Exercise Science with an emphasis on posture and rehabilitation, and has a remarkable understanding of how to progressively remove structural limitations, while building strength in the right way. All of my work with trainers in the past had led to injuries. Working with Abi was different. We didn’t just jump right in, she spent the entire first session doing a diagnostic assessment and finding all of my weaknesses. The list was long. Even though I was exercising regularly, my thoracic spine was compressed, limiting rotation, and my glutes were weak, limiting power. 

That dose of hard truth didn’t sit well, but it was exactly what I needed. For the last two and a half years I’ve worked out 6-7 days/week for an average of 90 mins/day. I’ve put in the time, even when traveling and tired, and I’ve never felt as functionally strong. My body has been upgraded significantly and I feel like we’re just getting started.

I haven’t avoided injuries or setbacks, but they were always progressive. For example, at the start of last season I got tendonitis in my left foot because my glute strength increased so much that I was now driving through the ball hard enough to strain my left foot. Increased power put my body into a position it wasn’t used to! Dom gave me a simple fix and my foot steadily recovered.

 

Practicing What I Preach

 

So now, here I am at 45 with one last go to realize my dreams and see how good of a player I can become. To that end, I decided to write this blog to practice what I preach, bring some accountability, and provide a window into my mental game work, and my process for improving.

Golf has been near and dear to my heart for the last 35+ years, ever since my grandfather first had me swing a club that was nearly as tall as I was. I’ve learned a lot of lessons from the game, about myself, people, competition, and life. The game is a great educator. For me now, this drive is more than just playing in the U.S. Open. Throughout my adult life, golf has helped me to grow personally and as a coach –  playing in the heat of competition does that. It can break you down, expose hidden weaknesses, and test you in ways uncommon in everyday life. I am certain that growth will continue as I push myself beyond my current limits.

But I also want to win. I want to tee it up in the U.S. Open and I’m going to figure out how to get it done. No more mulligans.

Written by Jared Tendler

February 19, 2024

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