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What is Your “Golf Personality?” and How it Affects Your Golf Vacations

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Do you see opportunity or an obstacle? Your answer will influence your game.

Do you see opportunity or an obstacle? Your answer will influence your game.

Did you hear PGA Tour player Ryan Moore publicly blast the US Open and Pebble Beach?

How about the quotes from Gregory Havret, who barely made it into the field and then finished just one stroke behind the winner?

I think these statements say a lot about their personalities, which, in turn, had a big effect on their performance.

Here’s what each of them said, how you can tell which type of player you are, and if your “golf personality” is helping or hurting your game and your enjoyment of golf vacations.  

First, let’s take a look at an excerpt from what I understand was an eight-minute tirade by Ryan Moore, who was extremely unhappy with the way the USGA set up Pebble Beach Golf Links for the US Open.

He said:

“I don’t understand why you’d have a tournament that doesn’t reward good golf shots.”

And about the 17th hole in particular, he said:

“It’s completely unreasonable, it’s just a horrible golf hole, the way they set it up.”

Even eventual winner Graeme McDowell said the hole was, “borderline unfair.”

Unfair to whom, guys? The dozens of other pros playing the exact same hole?

Moore finished tied for 33rd.

Now, let’s see what Frenchman Gregory Havret said:

“This course is really hard, and mistakes are coming really quick. So, I was just doing my things, avoiding mistakes as much as possible. And then tried to take the opportunities to make birdies sometimes, to make a difference.”

When asked about his mood the morning of the final round (in which he was paired with Tiger Woods), he said\:

“I slept beautifully. I woke up this morning very nicely, happy to play golf at a beautiful site with the best player in the world.”

Havret finished second.

Do you think each man’s attitude affected his performance?

I do, and I’ll bet your personality influences your game and golf vacations, too.

For example, let’s say you’re playing a course for the first time.

Do you get upset or angry if it isn’t absolutely clear which way the hole goes or how you’re “supposed to play it,” or are you satisfied doing the best you can with the information available?

When a light rain starts falling, does it totally throw you off, or do you enjoy the challenge of adjusting your game to suit the conditions?

If you answered “yes” to the first part of each question, you might be a Ryan Moore-type player (in terms of personality). If the second part of each question sounds like you, your outlook is probably more like Gregory Havret’s.

I don’t want to sound preachy, but I’d argue that you’ll enjoy golf and your golf vacations more (and you’ll probably play better, too) if you take the Havret approach.

That is, just play the golf course, not your opponent or your own best score. Do the best that you can do on that day, under those conditions, with the information available.

The reality is, you can’t control anything else, and getting angry about it is only going to distract you from the most important shot in golf — the one you’re about to hit.

So, be honest: are you Ryan Moore or Gregory Havret?

And here’s an extra credit question: Do you think the USGA set up Pebble Beach to reward luck rather than skill, as Ryan Moore suggested?

Please share your comments below.

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39 Comments

  1. Gary Munn

    June 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Looking at the course from TV, the greens really looked horrible. Did they play better than they looked? Usually expect really lush greens at an Open!

  2. Adam

    June 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Was it the chicken or the egg? Did Moore play poorly because he had a bad attitude, or did he have a bad attitude because he played poorly?

    Did Havret play well because he had a good attitude, or did he have a good attitude because he played well?

    I agree with you that your outlook certainly has everything to do with your performance. I always try to approach every round, every hole, every situation with a positive outlook. However, I also have my rounds where, despite the above approach, I still play poorly … and come away with a bad attitude.

  3. tns

    June 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    The course was very difficult and it showed as all players dropped strokes on the final day. I think it was a great set up and forced every player to think their way through every hole and it did just that…I do have a Kleenex for Moore and Woods (he lamented on the poor condition of the greens in the early rounds)!?!?!

  4. ed newman

    June 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Although I think I am more the Harvet type, I feel Moore’s pain. It’s hard to judge how unfair a course is watching from your couch, but if the course really was set up to be unfair then Moore has a right to be angry. I know the pin placement on 14 seemed unfair to me. I might get pretty mad hitting good shots that rolled back and forth off the green like Zack Johnson did there.

  5. Les

    June 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Being honest…I have gotten to the first tee as Gregory and left as Ryan, and vice versa. You are right on the money though. My best games have a little Harvet sprinkled throughout the round and a vacation. Is it hard to stay in the Harvet mode? It sure use to be but my game improved when I finally realized the differences. I have always referred to it as hot and cold. The hotter I got the worse it got and it was everybodies fault but mine and I am pretty certain Mr. Moore was hot. Harvet was playing cool, calm and collected. Pebble was set up tough. I have played there and under other than Open conditions it’s tough. But somewhere I read these guys are good. As good as they are there was only one on par this week-end.

  6. John Ace

    June 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    When the best players in the world gather for a major championship a difficult course is a requirement. I loved watching the pros being challenged by the 14th and 17th at Pebble Beach. Holes like these insure that there will be no ” lucky ” winners in major tournaments. The winner will be a champion whom met and overcame the difficult challenges over 72 holes.

  7. Will Person

    June 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Since when is golf supposed to be easy. It is really nice seeing golfers on TV shooting even par and winning. The US Open is not not all the tourneys with different names but the same type courses where we see drives and wedges and one putts and the winner is 20 under.
    Come on guys you get payed to play the best game ever invented, deal with it.

  8. ksniff

    June 22, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Here’s a John Wooden quote that seems to apply to this situation….

    “You can make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you blame others for those mistakes. When you blame others, you are trying to excuse yourself. When you make excuses, you cannot properly evaluate yourself. Without proper evaluation, failure is inevitable!”

    -John Wooden

  9. Joe

    June 22, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    All US Opens are set up to be hard.
    Weather conditions can make some holes unfair for even the best pros.
    Ultimately, you also need a lot of luck, and a hot streak to win the US Open on that particular weekend.

  10. linda gabriel

    June 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I just love this topic because Attitude is Everything because I belong to the Havret personality. I believe that whatever you say to yourself in the morning, the result is seen throughout the day. Positive Expectation is a must and that includes golf. I myself I do not believe in luck, everything is work and always a positive outlook always. A negative thoughts affects your nerves and muscles that is needed for your swing.

    My husband and I were there on the 17th for our 44th wedding anniversary , my dream came true to see Pebble Beach and had a glimpse of Tiger Woods and other great players. We waited for more than 3 hrs. waiting for the shuttle bus to bring us back to UCM , spectators got so frustrated and angry.Our planned nice dinner became midnight snack in Denny’s. We were so tired and exhausted but the following day I looked at the situation as a spice of life and that is a great golf attitude which is needed for our daily aspects of LIFE.

  11. Gary W. Pitts

    June 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Pebble Beach was set up to challenge the best golfers in the world. Any golfers who are [Hey, keep it clean!] should not play in a major championship if they lack the mental toughness required of the game. No one ever pretended that golf is a fair game- it is what you make of it… it mirrors life in that respect.

    Many golf pros have fragile egos….US Opens and all major golf venues are supposed to be challenging. If golf professionals find a course too challenging, perhaps they should consider local municipal courses or the mini-tour. If they can’t stand the heat- they should get out of the kitchen. No one wants to hear from golfers- pros or amateurs who whine about course conditions. Golf builds moral fortitude and character. such as golfers like Bobby Jones, or Francis Ouimet.

  12. Ted Reese

    June 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Saturday on the 7th hole Ian Poulter says “How are you supposed to play a hole like that?” 45 minutes later Dustin Johnson spins a wedge inside a foot. Poulter shot 75, Johnson shot 66.

  13. Don Schramm

    June 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I enjoyed the Open. The set up made the players work to make par and not have a birdie barrage as at some events. I don’t want to see the best in the world humiliated by unfair conditions but a fair test is a pleasure to watch. Often times at other events players can hit errant shots and recover for par and many times with birdie, generally not the case at Pebble Beach. Any pro expressing his views shouldn’t be criticized, after all they are usually asked a question and some give an honest answer. The 14th hole bordered on disaster but seems each Open has one controversial hole so maybe that’s what the USGA wants. I believe it was a true test for the players.

  14. Charles Jeffers

    June 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I have known Ryan Moore and his father for years and work part time at their golf course. Ryan is a wonderful young man with a great attitude. I was frustrated for Phil and Ernie when they hit the 14th green and their balls ran off the green. I can understand some frustration from the players. It is unfair to label a player from a single act of frustration. I will try to not judge you based on your poor judement used in this article.

  15. Chuck

    June 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    As someone who once threw his putter up into a tree after 4-putting the last hole of a high school match and now at age 59 tries to take every shot with a positive attitude (and mostly succeeds–with the attitude anyway, not always the shot, of course.) I have to agree with those who say your mindset is the most important aspect of how you play and enjoy the game.

    I try to be upbeat whether I’m laying 1 in the center of the fairway or laying 4 under a tree. I have realized that the only important shot is the next shot.

    A lot of pros would have their noses in the air with conditions a lot of us face every round. I enjoy seeing them squirm when the course over-matches them. (Usually once a year.) I play a lot of courses where I am ALWAYS overmatched. Certainly 14 and 17 were insane Sunday. So what? There were smarter ways to play those holes than many chose. You can’t play your normal shots when the course is not set up that way.

  16. TODD

    June 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    My wife and I were there for Saturday and Sunday. I walked the entire course on Sunday with Bo Van Pelt and his playing partner. Having been my first time ever(and probably only time) on the course, I was amazed by the beauty and toughness of the place. Van Pelt played really scrambling golf but overcame his poor driving by making putt after putt. He played the course as smartly as he could on a cool, windy morning. I would have to say that Pebble was far tougher then Torrey Pines two years earlier. Was it unfair? In no way. It was a true test of golf on one of the greatest golf courses in the world. I would not want it any other way as a spectator. Yes, 17 was a bear of a hole on Sunday. Very few players hit the green in regulation. Most came up short in the front bunker, or long in the thick rough. But those that could scramble, made par. Luck always has a place in a round of golf. Well placed shots though are what separate the winners and losers.

  17. Glenn Gallacher

    June 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    To me, I like that the US Open in general, and Pebble this year for sure, presents the ultimate challenge to the best of the best in the world, and it offers the opportunity for anyone able to qualify (who have nothing to lose and typically have low expectations since they are so happy to just be playing), to play alongside those pros they admire and aspire to one day play against regularly, and to test their game against a course purposefully set up to be incredibly difficult.

    Too many courses allow pros to bomb away and take chances week to week. Pebble didn’t allow that. I think that yes, it looked and obviously played VERY difficult for everyone out there, but it forced the best players in the world to have to really focus on those areas of golf that we, as recreational players, struggle to master every time we play… patience, course management, self-discipline, and minimizing the damage on shots that stray from their intended target. Good shots were rewarded, but more so, it was the ability of the golfers to minimize the damage on bad shots that proved most valuable. Those that mentally got caught up in their previous bad shots got bitten badly. Those that didn’t were toward the top of the leader board.

    Havret played incredible golf, and who knows why. Low expectations? Just happy to be there? Perhaps just one of those rare tournaments of his life where the stars aligned for him, and they may never again. But I bet if you asked those that qualified to play, whether amateur or pro, and who were eaten alive by Pebble, what they thought, I bet most would say yes, it was insanely hard, but they would then go on to say what an amazing experience they had, and how fortunate they were to be able to play. I bet NONE of them would be heard moaning and complaining about the course set-up and the difficult conditions. Rather, I’m sure that while being frustrated they didn’t play better, they would instead talk about how they appreciated the privilege they had walking and playing in a US Open, amongst the best of the best… and which ones they beat.

    Ryan Moore can complain all he wants to. He has that right to say how he feels. But have him return to the Nationwide Tour or have to go back through Q School and earn his way back on the tour, or better yet, have to win a string of qualifiers to get into next year’s US Open, and no matter his result, I bet he sings a different tune.

    Perspective is everything. Well…perspective along with patience, good course management, self-discipline, and the ability to minimize the damage of a bad shot.

    Cheers to McDowell and Havret for a tournament well played.

  18. Dubba

    June 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I think that the 17th hole was set up too difficult, even for the pros. When only 10%
    of the best players in the world can hit the green in reg. something’s not right. The
    rest of the course was set up to challenge and reward good shots and patience.
    You need to think your way around a U. S. Open layout as well as play it.

  19. Michael

    June 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    I feel that some holes were unfair, 14 and 17. When you see the best players in the world not being able to hit a par 3 green on such a consistant basis. then something is wrong with the setup. They don’t all just happent to play bad on the same hole all day long or all tournment long. I tend to side with Moore. Good golf shots should be rewarded, do you think Good golf shots should be penalized????

  20. Craig Better

    June 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Maybe we’re getting hung up on semantics, but “unfair” would be if some guys had to play those holes but others did not. But that wasn’t the case; they ALL had to play those holes. So, were they severe? Yes. Unfair? No.

    One could argue that the poa greens grew scruffier (and bumpier) for the afternoon groups, thus putting those players at a disadvantage. But that’s the only thing I’ll concede could be called “unfair” about the course.

    To your last point, I think if a shot is penalized, it wasn’t really good to begin with, at least as far as how the golf course defines “good.” Now, it may have been struck purely (which is “good” in the eyes of the player), but it obviously didn’t have the right trajectory and/or land in the right spot and/or have the right amount of spin to stay out of trouble.

    There are lots of ways to approach greens — fly ins, run ups, bounce ups, using sidehill slopes, etc., and we saw some of this used with great success (yes, even on 14 and 17). Course set-ups like this force players to be creative, which I think takes many of them out of their comfort zone.

  21. Ivan

    June 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    How we approach life including golf determines much of our success. Some people just seem to like to complain. If they would think about it it causes more difficulty for themselves.

  22. Dave

    June 22, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I attended Sat and Sun. The course was set up tough, very tough but fair for all. I saw about 10 groups go through #17 and saw no one hit the green. It was impossible to hold a 4 iron given the pin location and the speed of the greens. It was a chipping or bunker exhibition. Saw one birdie from Tim Clark pulling a Watson-like lob shot that hit the flagstick and dropped. It was still a great display of recovery from the rest of the players who made par.

  23. Peter

    June 23, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I am at a loss to understand the meaning of “unfair” in many of the comments. How can a course be “unfair” if every player must play with the same setup and under the same conditions? The purpose of all tournaments is to shoot as low a round as possible relative to your competitors whether your final number is 20 under or 20 over. If the USGA moved the pin around in the middle of each round, that would be unfair! But they don’t.

  24. Craig Better

    June 23, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Much more eloquently put than my attempt. Thanks!!

  25. Todd

    June 23, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Was the course set up for luck rather than skill? One look at the leader board on Sunday makes the answer obvious. Mickelson, Els, Woods, Love. Didn’t see too many Ryan Moores. The cream rose to the top on a magnificent golf course. Bravo USGA!

  26. David

    June 23, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I was at Winged Foot for the US Amatuer in 2004, which Ryan Moore won. I didn’t hear him complaining about the unfair setup there. This was the same course where the winning score was 5 over par, not even par, when the US Open was played there in 2006. Too many of the pros are pampered millionaires who throw a tantrum when they can’t have their way or things go wrong. I’ve never seen anyone play well with that mindset. I’m glad the USGA is independent of the PGA Tour. I’ve been a member for nearly 30 years and will continue to support them and their independence. One USGA president summed it up well when he said, “We don’t want to humiliate the best players in the world, we want to identify them.”

  27. Martin

    June 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I was there Wednesday through Sunday, and I agree that the course set-up was very challenging. I sat on 17 for quite a few hours on Saturday, and was enthralled by the variety of ways that the top golfers approached a difficult conundrum. The hole was very difficult but fair.
    On the other hand, I felt that 14 was borderline unfair. Some very good shots were a little short of perfect, and I was of the opinion that the punishment was too severe. Some world-class golfers walked away with triple bogeys without playing any very poor shots. This did not happen on 17.
    So, although all golfers faced the same challenges, I felt that 17 was a tough and intriguing challenge, while 14 was more of a lottery.

  28. R. Davis

    June 23, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Only the 14th green was a little unfair. The 17th is a hole that Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson never complained about so Ryan was was out of line.

    These pros – with their souped up equipment and golf balls have no right to complain. Week after week they bomb it off the tee without regard to where it goes. The US Open is one of the only tournaments that really tests their skills. And they complain when things don’t go well? Sad, isn’t it?

  29. dak

    June 24, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Only played Pebble once and know it’s very challenging. Think pros should be accustomed to just about any condition. Personally though, if I paid $500.+ for a round of Golf, the Green conditions would be a real turn-off. As a
    provider to the Golf industry,I know that Supt’s are challenged, but the prevalence of Poa should have been embarrassing. Somehow…I would expect pristine conditions.

  30. J. Beumler

    June 24, 2010 at 10:41 am

    There’s a famous story about golf course set up. I’m paraphrasing, but it goes something like this:

    One of the Open players says to a USGA Official, “This course is too hard. You can’t expect the world’s elite golfers to succeed with this set up.”

    USGA Official replies, “We don’t set up the course for the “”world’s elite golfers.”” We set up the course to find out who they are.”

  31. Will

    June 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    The game of golf, when it comes down to it, is all mental. We can look at it as the green being mess and it not being “fair”, or we can look at it as a challenge to ourselves and to the way we play the game.

  32. Cliff Kupperberg

    June 28, 2010 at 1:42 am

    I have played Pebble many times and I know how hard it is to hold those greens and make fast downhill putts. I do believe it should be set up as difficult as possible for the U.S. Open, but I also think it must reward exceptional shots. Making the speed of some of the greens so quick it took luck to hole a three-foot putt, even when the stroke was perfect, is the way they take some of the results of great skill away from the players. Any one of four or five players making two of the missed wobbles that appeared to me to be as well struck as possible would have won that Open. Graeme deserved to be the winner as much as anyone, but it would have been more enjoyable for me to see more of the great shots rewarded.

  33. 2Rs

    June 28, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I am an avid golfer and just enjoy playing so no matter which way the wind blows is my motto. The US Open is to be challenging for the players that enters and the winner is rewarded based on skills and some golf luck. If I was among the best in the world I would not cry about unfairness I would just play. Enjoy the game …

  34. Andy

    June 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    My traveling job has me playing many new courses monthly. When paired with local golfers, I reap the benefit of local knowledge. Otherwise, it’s a new experience each round. I try to stay in the “Havret mindset” throughout all my golfing. 14 was tough, but then again this is the US Open… and this is Pebble Beach…it isn’t a great shot to a Pebble Beach green if it runs off the back, many courses have fast greens and have to be played accordingly. When both of my children were learning the game, after a bad shot, they had 3 seconds to get the negative thoughts/complaining out of their system… then, start thinking about how they will recover from that shot. A negative attitude in the game of golf is totally counterproductive.

  35. KMH

    June 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    To me, the best example was Tiger. At Torrey Pines, he said of his big putt on 18 that he knew the green would be bumpy, but he just lined it up in the direction he wanted and that was all that was under his control (it went in, which led to his winning the Open). This year Tiger was publicly chastised for his remark that the “greens were horrible” after the opening round. I wonder if Tiger’s attitude at Torrey Pines might have been different if he missed…

  36. Jack Poitras

    July 20, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    The only courses I dislike playing are the ones where there is a beautiful piece of property yet the designers put in all kinds of tricks like severely sloped fairways or hidden water i.e. hidden creeks or ponds. Can golf on any kind of course as I learned to play in far northern Canada on a completely sand course with artificial greens and we hit of sand mounds until we discovered mats. Love the game under any cirsumstances……!

  37. jeremy

    July 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I’m in the process of planning a vacation for September and it’s pretty much mandatory that there is more golf than I can handle as part of the trip! (Don’t tell my wife, she doesn’t know that part). I found some links when trying to find out pebble beach green fees and since some of you have golfed Pebble Beach, I’m wondering if anyone can tell me how accurate this is. Thanks a bunch. Fore!

  38. Craig Better

    July 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Last I checked, it was $495 to play Pebble Beach Golf Links (cart included for resort guests; $35 for all others). As rates change frequently, it’s best to check with the resort itself. http://www.pebblebeach.com

  39. Ron

    October 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Moore’s right. 14 and 17 were unplayable. Lucky bounces were all you could hope for on 17. Nothing that hit the green stayed on it. Had to hope for a lucky lie in the rough from which you could get up and down. One more lucky bounce and Havret could have ended up the Open champion. So much for identifying the best player. The US Open has had a number of one-hit wonders as champion with such set-ups.

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