By Dr. Tom Dorsel, Ph.D.

Arriving in Pinehurst, I set out Monday night to get the pulse of The Village — the quaint town center of the bigger area know as Pinehurst. The Village is a beautiful little collection of hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops; and for the open, some of the little winding streets are closed off for additional seating and serving. Indeed, most people were outside in the cool evening air.

First Encounter

I started out stopping by the Pinecrest, that had its usual lively crowd, inside and out. Then onto the Holly Inn, where I see a young man who looks like a golfer eating alone, which suggested he wasn’t on location to party.

Since he was done eating, I approached him and asked him if he might be a player. He said, “No, I’m a caddy.” I said for whom, he told me, and I said, “That is interesting, do you mind if I sit down and we talk a bit?” He seemed genuinely happy to do so, was interested in the business card I gave him, and we began the conversation. As it turns out, he is caddying for a promising college player and US Open qualifier.

I did not get into his player’s psyche, but discussed with him how I thought the better audience for a sport psychologist might be the caddies, rather than the players themselves. I mean, as a sport psychologist, you can only be with the player before and after the round. But the caddy is there for every shot. Teach the caddy how to be a better mental and emotional coach for their player, and they will be there every step of the way, when the player needs the help the most.

Second Encounter

Leaving the caddy, I moseyed over to the Carolina Inn and saw a guy sitting by himself in a rocker. I asked him if he might be a player or caddy? (It doesn’t hurt to ask — everyone is flattered to be mistaken for a US Open participant.)

In this case the fellow said that he was neither, but he was the manager for one of the Top 100 players on the PGA Tour.

His job was very interesting to talk about in its own right, and I finally got around to asking him what he thought his player’s advice to juniors might be, if there intent is to make it to the US Open someday? He said that the question was interesting, thought a minute, and said, “Dedication.” That is, when his player was a junior golfer, he would be up at 6 a.m. waiting for his coaches, frustrated that he wasn’t already out there practicing.

Confirmation from a Superstar

I read today the speech of Roger Federer to the graduating class at Dartmouth this year. The first main point he made was that “effortless” is a myth. In fact, he was frustrated when people said he made tennis look effortless. While he knew they meant to be complimentary, what he really wanted to respond was, “The truth is, I had to work very hard… to make it look easy.”

Nobody sees how much work an athlete puts in to get to elite levels of competition. You can’t get there without more practice than most can imagine.

So that was the first night for a sport psychologist out on the beat. I wonder what tomorrow might bring. If the buzz in The Village on Monday is indicative of what the rest of the week is going to be like, Pinehurst and the USGA have hit the jackpot. It was special. Indeed, the manager that I talked to above gazed out at one point in our conversation and mused, “This must be heaven.”

Dr. Tom Dorsel is a sport psychologist in Pinehurst and Hilton Head. His best selling book is “GOLF: The Mental Game.” He can be found on Facebook and at Dorsel.com.