The courses have changed drastically as well.
There again, that's equipment. We're seeing a
real change in how players play the game now simply
because of how courses are being designed and
what the equipment now allows you to do. It's
a whole different climate, no more or less exciting,
I think it's always been exciting, but it has
maybe helped the average player more than the
best player. I think the best players in the game
are probably being disadvantaged because of all
of the mis-hits that players can now put on the
ball and they still come out just fine. Having
said that, there is still an awful lot of talent
out there because more kids are playing the game
and we're seeing better teaching at younger ages.
What distresses me a little bit
is that we're not allowing these kids to play
other sports. If they are football players when
they're 4 years old, they're linebackers when
they're 24 years old. They don't get to do anything
else. What worries me is that these kids are going
to be tomorrow's leaders. I'd like to see them
be as well-rounded, both physically and mentally,
as they can be. That bothers me a bit. We need
to allow these kids to grow and become what they
want to become and not burn out, whether on golf
or track. You certainly see it in swimming; these
kids burn out at 14 years old.
Will that pendulum swing back?
In golf, I don't know. The only way it's going
to swing back is we're probably going to have
to change our equipment. We're going to have to
start with the ball, bring the ball back to where
it really does spin a little more, where it does
curve off-line a little more, take the velocity
down so it doesn't go so far. I mean, I'm hitting
the ball farther now than I've ever hit it and
I'm nearly 62 years old! I mean, give me a break!
Half of golf is a mental game. Did you ever struggle
No. I've visited casually with a couple of sports
psychologists, and I'm not going to say they're
necessarily picking my brain, but they are, simply
because I've been able to compete at a high level
for such a long time. And coming from a different
background than most of the other guys, I think
I'm sort of that rare bird, or maybe it's an oddball,
I don't know. But my conversations with them,
when I hear what they talk about or say to other
guys, I say well, I've done that my whole life.
It's what I believe in, it's how I've conducted
my career and basically what I try to do in my
personal life and my professional life. So I probably
wouldn't be a good candidate to sit down with
a sports psychologist and get all psyched up.
Bankrate: Did you ever suffer a case of nerves?
No. Well, shoot, I want to be nervous.
Through the years, you could look at all the players
that have succeeded, maybe in any sport, and the
best rise to the top. When it really matters the
most, that's when they are the most anxious, that's
when they get in the so-called zone, that's when
their heart beats to a different drum and they
become encapsulated in that time. Things slow
down. That's how the best become the best and
how many of the others are the supporting cast.