“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”

This is just one of the many great quotes about the necessary impact of facing challenges. This is quite possibly one of the most truthful quotes you can find about life. You can also easily apply it to golf and your development as a player. I could sit and write for hours about this quote but I will keep it to just a few tidbits about how this applies to a young junior golfer.

As with anything in life, if you aren’t challenging yourself then you will never learn how to grow and develop as a person or an athlete. Take a minute and think about all of the big moments in your life, both good and bad, which ones do you feel that you learned the most from? Typically those are going to be the more “trying” or disappointing parts of your life. Maybe it was a break-up, maybe you had an injury that set you back or you lost a big tournament coming down the stretch. I know for me, I could create a long list of personal and professional “challenges” that I have faced, along with all the things I learned from each of them. I will, however, spare you all of my stories about heartbreak, disappointing finishes, and setbacks.

So the question now is, how does this apply to improving your golf game. Obviously, you end up with challenges that you weren’t planning to have such as losing a tournament or getting injured, but you can create your own challenges that will help you get better and become more mentally tough. One way is to play with better players. If you get a chance during a practice round to play with a top-ranked player or you know someone at your home course who is really good, ask to play with them. This will always challenge you to play your best and give you an opportunity to learn from someone who has more experience than you.

The best way to challenge yourself on a daily basis is during your practice sessions. If you don’t walk away from a practice session feeling like you pushed yourself past a new point then you aren’t going to get much better. You need to create drills that force you to really focus, provide some accountability and add a little pressure to each shot you hit. These types of drills will challenge you to reach a goal that you set for yourself. If you don’t reach that particular goal then you must start all over with the drill. This can get frustrating at times but it will force you to push past a point of “comfort” and create new confidence in your game and abilities.

Whether it’s with your golf game, your school work or your personal life you must always find new ways to challenge yourself. This is truly the only way to develop and improve as a person and an athlete. So don’t be afraid to try something that you might fail at. Always create challenges during your practice sessions. Figure out ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone.