Mateo started learning golf when he was 5 years old but he told me that he really started to like it after I took over his group classes. He was quite talented for his age, so I encouraged his Mom to consider private lessons as well. He quickly excelled and moved up from the Little Linkers to Level 1 where I introduced the 9 Core Values. In order to move up to Level 2, golfers were required to attain a certain score on a golf skills assessment. The first time, he was nervous, the second time he came close and the third time he crushed it. While the first two assessments were disappointing he learned a lot about himself and his golf game. Now, I felt he was ready to play tournaments.
Tournaments proved to be a testing ground for true perseverance and grit. With a little coaching from his caddie, he was able to work through some mental challenges on the course and place first a dozen times and second a few times. Mateo, now 8, picked up tournament play again in June and he started to struggle with perseverance. "I have a hard time forgetting what went wrong on the last hole. I get upset and then it carries into the next hole. Sometimes I just don't recover." He puts a lot of pressure on himself because he wants to be perfect.
No golfer is perfect so I had to spend a lot of time with him encouraging him to focus on the fundamentals that I have always taught him. His early success, left him complacent. Complacency led to over confidence which led to mistakes and a lack of perseverance. It was a tough summer of learning and growing for him.
This past weekend, he was given the opportunity to play up in the 9-11 group of the South Florida PGA Junior Section Links Tour at Indian Spring Country Club in Boynton Beach. He was nervous but when he saw a familiar face from his previous PGA Junior League Team he was more relaxed. He played bogey golf through 4 holes. "I was not happy, but after the 4th bogey, I decided to focus. I needed to catch up. I was making too many mistakes." He birdied 5, parred 6 and birdied 7 to tie the leader. That birdie would lead to a first place finish for Mateo in a scorecard playoff.
The win was special because he played against two 10 year-olds who could out drive him. It was intimidating but he overcame it and finally did what I had been teaching him to do, persevere-never give up.