The Reality and Absurdity of Pitching To the…

First a golf question: You are a golfer facing two putts. The putts are exactly the same. Exactly. They are 20 footers. Uphill. Same weather conditions. Same wind. Same green. You correctly read both putts as left-edge, meaning that if you putt the ball at the proper speed toward the left edge of the hole, it will gently break right into the cup. We are talking about identical putts.Except for this:Putt No. 1 happens when you and a friend are goofing around on the golf course, and the putt is to clinch double bogey.Putt No. 2 is at the U.S. Open and if you make it, you magically win the championship.I’m sure you already have a thought on this -- someone brought it up to me, and I did. Let’s look at the two situations logically. The buddy putt, you will be relaxed and loose and free, which is obviously a good thing. No pressure. No crowd watching. On the other hand, you probably will not lock in on this putt, not focus too deeply, not put much effort into making it.The U.S. Open putt is the opposite. You will obviously put all of your energy and focus on the putt. You will obviously try your hardest. But the crowd, the moment, the intensity would be pretty overwhelming. You might second-guess your read. You might be overwhelmed by nerves. You might find it hard to empty your mind from all sorts of unhelpful thoughts.You probably have a strong opinion about which putt you would make (or neither, or both) … but that’s actually not the question. The question is this: How do you think you would FEEL about making one putt or the other one?Here’s my feeling: If I made the first putt, the putt with my buddy, I’d probably not think much about it. I got lucky. I had a nice little moment on an otherwise lousy hole. I might get to brag about it to a friend. I certainly would not take from this that I have courage or daring or guts or anything like that.If I make the second putt, though, I pitched to the score. There’s absolutely no question about that. I faced down my fears, I overcame my doubts, I made the putt against all odds and with the most intense pressure howling in my face. If I make that putt, I undoubtedly will make conclusions about myself, my constitution, my mettle, my strength of character. I’ll decide I’m a pretty amazing guy.You might have heard about the g

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