Ariya Jutanugarn (pictured, above) was in the midst of one of the more epic free falls in major championship history when she did something truly remarkable—she caught herself before reaching the bottom. After losing all of a seven-shot lead on the back nine following back-to-back bogeys on the 17thand 18thholes, she was able to right the ship and prevail in a four-hole playoff over South Korea’s Hyo-Joo-Kim to capture the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek.
Just how did she do it? Not with her technical game, but with the human skills that she learned and developed under her GOLF Academy coaches, Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott of VISION54® in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“She had a tee shot on No. 10 that she didn’t like [which led to a triple bogey] and that kind of started a downward spiral in her play,” said Nilsson, a former Solheim Cup European team captain and head coach with the Swedish National Golf Teams. “Her lead started to shrink and other people began making birdies, and her attention began shifting more toward the outcome, and things out of her control. But she was able to catch herself in that downward spiral and start focusing on things that were more in her control, like her Think Box and Play Box.”
On the fourth hole of the playoff, the 23-year-old former World No. 1 hit the shot of the tournament, cozying up a difficult greenside bunker shot to about 10 inches and tapping in for par to capture her second major championship.
“There are two things that happened once the playoff started,” said Marriott, who in 2016 was inducted into the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional (T&CP) Hall of Fame. “No. 1, she started to manage her self-talk. She was getting down on herself for losing a seven-shot lead, but she caught herself and turned it around. She said, ‘Well, I don’t know if I’m going to win here but I’m going to do my best no matter what.’ It was a real, clear execution of human skills between shots. Then, on the bunker shot, even though it was a bad lie, she knew she could hit it. There was no overpreparation. Her Think Box didn’t get too long and she hit the shot with total commitment in the Play Box.”
Added Nilsson: “It was a tricky bunker shot but she stayed with her gut feeling and committed to it. “She had a feel in her hands for the shot and a good visual sense of the shot and stayed committed to both.”
Commitment. Staying true to your gut. Being more positive in your self-talk. These are all part of the non-technical skills that Nilsson and Marriott refer to as human skills. You need these human skills to manage yourself before a shot (Think Box), during a shot (Play Box), after a shot (Memory Box) and between shots to play your very best on the course. These human skills complement your technical skills and the better you’re able to understand and apply them on the course, the better you’ll be able to transfer your technical skills from the range to the course.
Now, thanks to GOLF Academy’s first original GOLFPASS production, Coaches Playbook: Be a Player, viewers at home can learn the same human skills that Nilsson and Marriott teach in their popular golf schools and to their students, which include nine different LPGA major champions and four former world No. 1 players. The four-part video series, based on the groundbreaking 2017 book, Be a Player: A Breakthrough Approach to Playing Better ON the Golf Course, is now streaming live on GOLFPASS (www.golfpass.com). GOLFPASS members can access the series on the LEARN homepage or by clicking here. Not a member? You can sign up for a free 7-day trial at www.golfpass.com and begin watching Coaches Playbook: Be a Player right now.
“So many golfers are putting their time, money and energy into improving their technical skills, which is awesome,” said Marriott. “But now they have an incredible opportunity with our Coaches Playbook: Be a Player series to complement that with a more sufficient, complete set of human skills. And by putting more effort into their human skills they’re going to start to see their technical skills improve.”
Golf Channel host Blair O’Neal joins Nilsson and Marriott on Be a Player to explore these human skills and also provide viewers with many of the same on-course exercises and strategies employed by their most notable students, including Jutanugarn and her older sister Moriya, Brittany Lang, Brittany Lincicome, Suzann Pettersen, World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam, Ai Miyazato, Russell Knox, Kevin Streelman and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“We’re so excited that through GOLFPASS, viewers at home can get an introduction to these human skills and start testing them out for themselves,” said Nilsson.