Greg Norman’s collapse at the 1996 Masters will go down as the biggest choke in major history
Going into the Sunday round that morning, Greg Norman was 6 strokes ahead of everyone in the field. With that kind of lead, it’s hard to lose it all at once. No, Norman lost it gradually and painfully, stroke after stroke. His lead ended in a 6 stroke loss against Nick Faldo, losing the Masters in what seemed like a gimme.
It was a devastating loss that Greg Norman never truly recovered from, but from his loss, we gain perspective on how to prevent this from happening.
Dont Change Your Grip
One of the CBS anchors, Peter Kostis, noticed that Norman was testing out a stronger grip at the practice range than he was using in competition. Whatever he had been doing up until that point was working, so why change it?
A new grip to a golfer is like starting over from scratch. Everything is different and halfway through the Masters is definitely not the time to start over. Not with a 6 shot lead.
Tip: Don’t change your grip in a high stress environment.
Let It All Out
When your head is not in the game, there will be no game. That’s the hardest part about golf, your mental game has to be the same if not better than your skills.
Sunday morning of the Masters, Greg Norman knew something was off. He told Butch Harmon, his coach in the time, about it but Harmon thought everything looked great. He was blaming it on his swing, that something felt wrong, but in reality something was wrong inside. He couldn’t open up to his caddie or Harmon about what he was feeling and in the end it ate him up from the inside out and cost his the major. In this case, not expressing his feelings made him a bitch, not the other way around.
“I should have turned to them both and just purged,” he says. “It would have taken 10 minutes, and it would have been over with. But I didn’t do it. So the lesson there is, don’t harbor things internally. Don’t push the elephant under the rug. Anxiety and happiness both come from within. And so you have to ask, which one do you prefer?”
It’s hard to discuss personal things sometimes, especially when you’re in the limelight like the pro’s are. But it’s always better to let it out than hold it in.
The worst thing about golf is also the best. When you’re feeling awful, you’ll see that reflected in your game, but if you let things out and feel relief that too will be reflected in your game. It’s almost instant gratification when you start making putts because you aren’t over analyzing or feeling awful inside. I bet Norman wishes Frozen had been created at that point in time.
Moral of the story, learn from Greg Norman and instead be like Elsa! Let it go.