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Watch and Learn
By: Andrea Furst (profile)
It is extremely beneficial to watch experts ply their trade. Behavioural observations are helpful for players of all levels to see how the best guys in the world conduct themselves at one of the most prestigious tournaments in the golfing calendar.

The final round of the 75th Masters was exhilarating to watch.  The commentators were on edge just as those of us who set our alarms to watch the final round from our living rooms in Asia!  At one stage the number of title contenders reached double digits!

It is extremely beneficial to watch experts ply their trade.  Behavioural observations are helpful for players of all levels to see how the best guys in the world conduct themselves at one of the most prestigious tournaments in the golfing calendar.

This article will focus on the benefits of expert behavioural observation.

However, remember, it is just that, behavioural observation.  I am making no claims here of knowing what was going on in the minds of the players mentioned… is simply an account of what I observed.

Here are some points of particular interest that I think are important to take on-board:

  • The majority of players appear to be playing relatively ‘no fuss golf’, particularly at the critical moment of settling over the ball.  Of the last few groups, there were not too many players who were anxious or agitated over the ball.  Typically, an anxious or agitated player is fidgeting over the ball, looking uncomfortable and uncertain.  There was an apparent ‘trust’ of their decision and ability to execute the desired shot.  This is likely to be because experts do not need to think about their swing mechanics while over the ball.  In fact, they lose their edge if they do.  Nike’s ‘Just do it’ motto summarises what we observed for the majority of players who were in contention.  

Mental note: Consistent swings occur when there is no thought of how it is happening.


  • Lapses of concentration and/or confidence are costly when they get out-of-hand.  The scorecard of 80 said it all… It was the day that Rory McIlroy would prefer to forget.  Did it have to do with the pressure of leading the first three rounds of the tournament or did it have to do with lack of belief?  Who knows, it is hard to tell from telecast observations made from the other side of the world.  But, what it does say is that if the best in the world can produce sub-standard performances when it really matters, then it is highly likely that players of all levels will also be prone to succumbing to the pressures of competition!  The disbelief he demonstrated was shared by all who watched his demise over the back 9 holes.  

Mental note: Bad things happen to good people and bad days happen for a myriad of reasons.  Your aim should be to minimise the damage of one ‘bad’ shot or hole by regaining focus on the task-at-hand.


  • Jason Day can mix it with the best!  Particularly, when he is enjoying himself.  As an Australian, there have not been many better scenes in elite sport than the one of Jason Day and Adam Scott walking towards the 18th green high-fiving each other on the last day.   The pairing undoubtedly provided a more team-like approach to their final round.  Both players showed moments of brilliance and the fun-factor had to be a major contributor.

Mental note:  Remember to have fun! 


  • Tiger gave himself a chance to prove that he is back!  At the end, however, he looked and sounded bitterly disappointed as he knew that he could have, would have, and should have been the recipient of the Green Jacket.  Despite the critics, his ability to continue to fight and score regardless of his shot execution is second-to-none.  It is well worth noting that he is a master of playing the game.  

Mental Note:  Make the most of your game’s level on any given day.  Maximise what you have.


  • The patience and calmness of Charl Schwartzel cannot go un-mentioned… He appeared to know what he needed to do to play his best and maximise opportunities presented to him throughout the final round.  He is a multiple tournament winner and it showed in his conduct.  His consistent behaviours throughout the final round paid dividends.  He did not appear to let the moment get away from him and kept doing the same thing over and over, which led to donning of the Green Jacket. 

Mental note: Practise consistent behaviours so that when you are in contention you can rely on them to keep you in-check.

There are numerous ‘take-home’ messages from this tournament. In fact, every tournament that you get to watch either live or from the comfort of your own home provides learning opportunities.  Never discount the lessons that you can learn from actively watching touring golf professionals.  We learned a great deal in our developing years by watching and mimicking, it doesn’t have to stop, particularly if you really want to optimise your learning from the best in the world.

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