By: Greg Steinberg

USGTF Sports Psychologist


The saga of Kyle Stanley on the PGA tour this year provides us with a teachable moment.


First, let’s recap. Stanley had a three-shot lead coming into eighteen on Sunday at the Farmer’s Insurance Open in San Diego. He proceeded to hit his third shot onto the green, but it spun back into the water. He took a penalty stroke, hit his fifth shot onto the green and then proceed to three-putt, making a triple-bogey. He then lost the playoff to Brandt Snedeker.


The very next week, he went onto win the Waste Management event in Phoenix.


The question is, “What can we learn from Stanley’s exploits?”


First, Kyle Stanley admitted that he was very nervous during the playoff. Many amateurs believe that the players on the PGA Tour do not get nervous. That is false. Tell your students that everyone gets nervous. This is a human condition. When an event is important to you and there is uncertainty about the outcome, you will be nervous. When your students are aware that even great players get nervous, they will feel more comfortable when they, too, feel the nerves.


Second, Stanley learned from his failure in San Diego what his body will do under pressure. More importantly, once Stanley learned how his body reacts under pressure, he then had more control over his body when the pressure arrived at the Waste Management tournament. As a result, he was successful.


Most likely, your students do not know what their bodies will do under pressure, so they choke when the pressure comes.


– Does your student swing faster under pressure?

– Does your student swing slower under pressure?

– Does your student think faster under pressure and get impulsive?

– Does your student take more risks under pressure?


Ask your students to start monitoring how their bodies change when the pressure mounts. Becoming aware of what happens under pressure is the first step to fixing any problems.

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