Golfers accused of being selfish–of course they are

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I’ve always loved that European golfers are for more willing to tell you what they really think than Americans even though it often gets them in hot water.

In explaining earlier this week why he has withdrawn from the Olympics, Rory McIlroy said that he really wasn’t that interested and that he doesn’t play golf with an eye to grow the game.

Of course, for that display of candor, he was been absolutely hammered, particularly for the mortal sin of being selfish.

Well, to excel at the highest levels of the game, golfers must be selfish to some degree.

That doesn’t mean you do not care about others, but as a player you must always put yourself and the game first: to find time to practice, to work out, to play–a lot–and to be fully present to yourself. If you play this game for a living, you must be fully invested with the support your family.

If you are not fully dialed into yourself emotionally, physically, mentally and even spiritually, you cannot excel in golf. To be fully present to yourself requires separating yourself from other aspects of your life for the time you are practicing and playing. This is probably true of other individual sports, but I can only argue from the view point of a golfer and golf coach.

I believe the personality of the game partly explains why these players do not feel they owe anything to the Olympics or the game, as harsh as that sounds. It’s not their culture.

Selfish? Everyone acts from self-interest. If a hockey player, for example, dons the Team Canada jersey, he wants to experience the joy of contributing to the victory for himself and for Canada. When I clean the house, I project that it pleases my wife and, I’m pleased that she’s pleased. And I get a clean house out of the deal.

Critics of PGA Tour players argue that LPGA Tour players are going to the Olympics despite the danger of Zika virus which can harm their ability to have healthy children. Along with the pride that comes with representing their countries, they also have an economic interest in participating; the Olympics provides LPGA Tour players with one of their best opportunities in history to emotionally connect with a public that often doesn’t pay attention.

The best male players don’t have that problem, and thus they are not incentivized or interested. Their ability to earn a greater living as independent contractors over the long haul is unlikely to be affected by their participation in the Olympics.

I see both sides of the argument, but I can understand Rory and Jordan’s point of view on his one. And thanks Rory for your candor although once again you’ve become a football because of it.

Picture: Nike

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a performance coach, an award-winning writer, Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team and Mental Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey. He is co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and a leader in training in the ManKind Project. He gets all excited when he helps people tap into their brilliance.

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