What Mike Clayton taught me

Mike Clayton is a brilliant course architect. I make this call after playing a fair bit of golf with him and getting inside his head. When you start to understand why he does certain things and some of the issues he must encounter then everything has a reason and makes sense.

He has also taught me some valuable lessons of late. These lessons can be applied to your game or other areas of your life.

1. Avoid Pesky. In Mike’s case his Peskys are all the naysayers that criticise his course designs. Most of these people don’t have a clue about course design or haven’t taken the time to learn anything about it (see above). This must become extremely frustrating for him but he doesn’t let it get to him. He keeps doing his work no matter what is going on around him.

From a golf playing point of view, golfers have the same issue. Your Pesky (that annoying little voice in your head) provides a constant barrage of chatter and distraction. If you let him get to you then it will stop you from doing your work (playing golf).

2. Mike’s a pro. And I don’t just mean in a golf sense although he has been (and still is) a successful golf pro. Mike consistently does everything he can to become a better designer.

– Reads books. Lots of them.
– Travels and plays all sorts of courses (not just the famous courses)
– Thinks about holes and how they can be improved upon
– Talks with golfers to understand their issues
– Studies the old courses
– Takes time to understand the psychology of the original course designers
– Has an appreciation for the history and future of the game
– Loves playing golf

There isn’t a course designer in Australia (or maybe the world) that goes to the lengths that he does to make himself the best that he can be. This is what makes him a pro. So while a member of a golf course can heap criticism, what would he really know? It seems to me that when it comes to course design everyone is an expert but very few have any right to one. It would be funny if Clayton started to give them advice on how to be a better (insert occupation here). I’m sure that wouldn’t go down well.

If your golf game is not where you want it to be then maybe you need to become a “pro”. What could you do that would enable your scores to improve?

Some things are certain. Members will still criticise and Mike will continue to do his work. In time, with the help or articles like this, golfers will hopefully appreciate the genius and passion of the man.

Finally, if you want to play your best golf, you must avoid distractions and be prepared to go the extra mile. There is no other way.

Footnote: I’ve thought of a third thing that Mike is really good at. And that’s thinking outside the box. He’s not scared to offer ideas that challenge the status quo. For example, he has been saying for ages that Pennant Golf should allow professionals to participate. In an age where all sports are competing for attention, what better way for golf to get some limelight with the Pros competing with the amateurs? Rumor has it that many pros, if available, would love to tee it up and help promote this great game.

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