When chasing the game does not work

30 May 2024, Thursday

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick – don’t lose faith – Steve Jobs







Sport teaches us many things about life. It dramatizes life. It speeds up learning. It speeds up winning and losing – the successes are instant, the failures dramatic, and the results transparent.

But, most of all – sport consumes our human emotions.

One year back on a Sunday morning, Jordan Spieth heard the following wise words from his dad. 

Golf may be the greatest game – but it’s still just a game

Jordan Spieth went on to capture the 2015 Masters title and follow it up with one of the most spectacular seasons in world golf.

Fast forward to this past weekend and Jordan Spieth at age twenty two was to learn one of the valuable lessons of sport.

Don’t chase the game

Leading the 2016 Masters by five strokes with nine holes to play, Spieth had one of the most unceremonious melt downs in the history of the Masters.

The locals joke that the 12th hole at Augusta has

broken more men than marriage and moonshine

The second shot at the 11th, all of the 12th, and the first two shots at the 13th hole at Augusta are nicknamed “Amen Corner” with reason.

Jordan Spieth knew he had minor swing problems going into the Masters, but his mistake was not his swing on the infamous 12th.

Never the longest hitter of a golf ball, Spieth is renowned for his genius ability to ‘’ control the controllables’’ in a game where many things cannot be controlled. He’s revered for his sound on and off course decision making.

But, on this occasion he got his decision making wrong – his thinking wrong. His mindset and focus had clearly shifted onto winning the Masters – and not the process – not the journey.     

You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the roses along the way: Walter Hagen

It’s called ‘’chasing the game’’– chasing the outcome – chasing the win. And, it was all so different from one year back when he cruised home to win his first major with a record- tying 18 under par score .

To his credit, Jordan Spieth fired two more birdies on the inward loop, and he maintained incredible poise at the Masters green jacket handing over ceremony to Danny Willet.

Jordan Spieth will bounce back, but he will also do well to take heed of one of the golfing greats, Tiger Woods, who had a run in with chasing the game. For more than a decade Tiger Woods chased the game, openly declaring his sole intent to become the greatest golfer to ever play the game.

To achieve this he had to haul in Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors. Tiger has won 14 Majors and does not look likely to compete further at the top level.

All was on track for Tiger Woods until his mentor, his military style strategist, his dad –   passed away suddenly in 2006. With the fine line between focus and obsession crossed, Tiger’s world quickly unravelled, and although he did reclaim the number one ranking briefly in 2013, he has never won another major.


Chasing the game stacks the pressure firmly on oneself . It can often leave one feeling disillusioned and sometimes even lead to burn out


Jordan Spieth at twenty two has the world at his feet.

If he puts his focus on ‘’Entertaining, Educating and Enriching the lives or others through his golfing genius ‘’ – and not chasing the game – he will become one of the best ever. He has all the aces.

But, if he chooses the road which Tiger Woods chose – where focus turns to an obsession on winning – he may find himself challenged like many a sporting champion who has gone before.

My bet is that Jordan Spieth is too wise for that.

He’s ready to smell the azaleas many times over .

There’s an art to focusing on what matters most: George Anders



Rob Opie is a Brand Strategist, Key Note Speaker, Author and ‘The Brand Coach ’to organizational teams and individuals

  • Rob’s latest book: The Game Changers: Good to Great to Greater is available FREE to readers as an instant digital download on his site : www.thegameplan.co.za