Football provides a good comparison for three kinds of golfers:  The grinders, the high-flyers, and then there’s Tiger.

Grinders on the golf course are like old style fullbacks, the power running backs in football.  They are steady, grind it out, hold onto the ball, 5 yards and a cloud of dust, strategically taking advantage of openings with breakaway speed, but not so much trying to create these opening with gambling moves.
Just conservatively and steadily getting the job done.  Good under pressure, when you need those final couple yards for the score.  They can carry the whole team down the field on their backs.  These would be the Jack Nicklauses, the Brooks Koepkas and the Scottie Schefflers of the world.


Then there are the high flyers, the wide receivers or flashy tailbacks of football.  They come out fast, let it all hang out, take risks regularly, go for the big play right from the start.  And, while they can have great moments, even great games, they can also blow routes, fumble the ball or allow interceptions that could have been prevented.  These would be the Arnold Palmers, the Phil Michelsons, the Jordan Spieths of the world.


But what about Tiger?  It is not surprising that Tiger is in a class of his own, considering he played the game in a class of his own.  I think the Tig was more like a tight end in football, the ideal in my opinion.

Tight ends are steady contributors, be it blocking, serving as decoys, or catching key short passes, often for touchdowns.  They are not regularly flashy, but rather more businesslike, as they go about their assignments.  And every once in a while they break loose for a big score.  That’s when you find out they also have some breakaway speed in that sturdy frame.


I think Tiger represents the best attitude for a competitive golfer:  Know how to grind, and also have some flamboyance in your hip pocket when it is called for — but only when it is called for.  Otherwise, just do your job, which is to steadily move the ball in a calculated way around the course,

When you have a lead, just look for short gains and hang onto the ball.  Keep taking it to your opponents with steady pars, run out the clock on them; and, if needed, be ready to reach back for that big moment, which you also have the ability to produce.


Dr. Tom Dorsel has been a sport psychologist for 50 years, serving part of that time at the University of Notre Dame from which he is a graduate.  He is currently based in both Hilton Head and Pinehurst.  Dr. Tom’s best selling book is “GOLF: The Mental Game,” and he can be reached on Facebook or at