Mastering the Mental Game

by Lauren Thedieck

 Jun 10, 2018 at 3:43 AM

How? Through wellness.

Understanding who you are and what you want to achieve is the key to success. But what keeps that key in the ignition and the car in “drive” might be something you’ve never considered. The answer is wellness. While wellness is an all-encompassing term, let’s hone in on mental toughness.

In sports, some might notice their anger flares when they play, a visible sign of loss of mental control. Others have negative thoughts or expectations that can bring their level of play down. Here are four tips to stay focused on the golf course, tennis court, and even in the workplace.


Mindful meditation can be done anywhere: laying down, sitting in a chair, or walking around the block. It’s a process that teaches us to respond more effectively to negative situations that we face in a sport or in daily life. Through meditation, we don’t seek to change or correct negative mental experiences; instead, we learn to accept whatever is going on in our minds and refocus our attention on the task in hand. Taking this practice into the sports arena results in an athlete’s increased ability to function “in the zone” by sharpening concentration, accuracy, and precision.

Goals on Paper

When you were young, you were probably told to write your goals down and keep them where you could see them every day. The same is true for you today. Keep goals visible to stay motivated and to push yourself.

“Setting goals helps us grow and expand, pushing ourselves to transform in ways that we never imagined,” said Tony Robbins, a prominent figure in leadership psychology. Understanding your heartfelt desires, and affirming you can attain them, is a beneficial tool to staying positive and determined.

Diet and Exercise for the Mind

It’s also helpful to write down your unhealthy mental habits. As Amy Morin, best selling author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do states, “Mental strength is a lot like physical strength. If you want to be physically strong, you need to go to the gym and lift weights. Mental strength is the same. If you want to be mentally strong, you need good habits like practicing gratitude. But you also have to give up bad habits,like destructive beliefs about yourself and others.”

Letting go of these inhibitors gives you control over your outlook and athletic potential.

Establishing Potential 

Focusing on your mental game will help drown out mental noise. You have control over every shot placement, which club to use, and what strategy to follow. Once you break your concentration and become consumed with things that you can’t control, you reduce your chances of playing your best.

So, how can you start the round off on the right foot? Create a simple routine. Stretch, meditate, practice on the range, eat a healthy meal — whatever it is, find your routine and stick to it.

As psychologist Jim Taylor wrote for Psychology Today, “Routines enable athletes to be completely physically, technically, tactically, and mentally ready to perform their best. I don’t know a world-class athlete in any sport who does not use routines in part of his or her competitive preparations.”

One of my tennis coaches at NC State would always say, “Practice each day like it is a match. On game day, you focus a little bit more and you prepare a little bit better.”

Make this part of your mental routine each day you are on the course and court.

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The Golf Whisperer

by John Maginnes

 Jun 06, 2018 at 3:59 AM

One of the game’s great voices reflects on the past
and looks ahead to a new challenge.

Roger Maltbie turned 67 years olf this summer — and he’s still going strong. He amassed five wins during his PGA Tour career, but Maltbie’s leaving his mark in the broadcasting world as an on-course analyst for NBC Sports. His comfortable style of walking the fairways has endeared “Rog” to golf fans across the world. I caught up with Maltbie during his break from PGA Tour coverage.

John Maginnes: What do you remember about Sedgefield and the old GGO?

Roger Maltbie: Well, I’ve played it with friends since and love the golf course. Going all the way back to the mid 70s, I don’t remember much. I remember that it was cold. Maybe Greensboro in March or early April wasn’t such a great idea. August makes a lot more sense, and the golf course looks great during the tournament.

JM: Tell us about the core group at NBC that you’ve worked with for so long.

RM: We’re getting a little long in the tooth there, pal. We’ve been together a long time. This is my 27th year, Johnny Miller’s 29th year, and Mark Rolfing was there before me. Gary Koch has been there since 1997. Dan Hicks has been in the booth since 1993. And of course, the rookies are Peter Jacobsen, Notah Begay, and Jim “Bones” Mackay.

JM: How has it been working with Bones, Phil Mickelson’s former longtime caddie?

RM: We did an experiment at Sea Island with Bones and John Wood, who caddies for Matt Kuchar. I took them out on the course and showed them how to do this job — this is where you stand, this is what you do. Bones is a quick learner and he does a good job. A caddie really does offer a different perspective. We ask him, “What would you tell a guy, what would your advice be?” It’s been a nice fit.

JM: And inevitably, we have a little more insight into Phil Mickelson’s thinking.

RM: Really, who looks at life or golf like Phil? How do I say this with the utmost respect — you can call Phil a lot of things, but you can’t call him doubtful. Phil’s confidence is his greatest asset, whether the rest of the world follows along or not.

JM: What have you made of the return of Tiger?

RM: It’s great that he’s healthy again. Whether he catches Jack or not almost doesn’t matter. Who knows? But it’s a shame to see someone get robbed of the opportunity because of a physical problem. Now he seems to have that cured and he can go after it hard, so now we might get to see if he can do it, but that is going to be the burden for him.

JM: For a long time, the flagship event for NBC was the US Open. How hard is it for you to watch someone else do the event?

RM: It was a business decision. We understand that money
talks and everything else walks, and that’s fine. We were out bid, so the USGA took their TV affiliation to a different place. Do I miss it? Yeah, I miss it. It’s our national championship, and certainly our first major. What I do is great fun. But there is some golf that is more meaningful, and we are talking about the US Open. To have those opportunities to cover the events was special. They are special events. They were special when we played, and special when we broadcast. So yeah, it’s a little painful to watch sometimes.

JM: As part of the shuffle of television contracts, NBC now does the Open Championship. What is that like?

RM: It’s different for me, because I only played in the British Open twice. Back then, we called it the British Open, but now it’s the Open Championship. Both times I played in it were at Turnberry, so I’m learning courses like Carnoustie for the first time, which is fun. [He pauses and smiles.] And it’s the next time that I work.

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Road Trip

by Mike Purkey

 Jun 02, 2018 at 8:55 PM

How an unassuming oyster shack inspired two trips to play several McConnell properties — and more to come.

The creator of the Sunny Side Turnaround is a CPA whose organizational skills calculated the excursion down to the dollar, mile, and hour. But in the end, it all started because Kent McLamb just wanted some oysters. The desire for a seafood run morphed into a golf trip, and it was the brainchild of McLamb, the chief deputy at the N.C. Office of the State Auditor and a member of Raleigh Country Club. His job often took him to Elizabeth City, N.C., and during those trips, he’d drive past Sunny Side Oyster Bar in Williamston, N.C. The restaurant is a simple clap-board building yet an iconic local spot. But McLamb never stopped, and he was determined to remedy that.

“If you didn’t know about it, you wouldn’t pull in the parking lot,” says Sam Sparks, a member at TPC Wakefield Plantation and part of the first official Sunny Side Turnaround.

“Most people, when they take a McConnell trip, go to Asheville and Knoxville,” says McLamb. “But I was looking at Brook Valley in Greenville, and wondered what would make it a worthwhile trip besides just driving to Greenville, playing golf, and coming back. Then I saw Williamston on the map.”

The plan was to play TPC Wakefield on Friday afternoon, drive 95 miles on U.S. 64 East to Sunny Side, have dinner, stay in Williamston, and drive 40 minutes to Brook Valley for a mid-morning Saturday tee time. After the round, they’d drive back to Raleigh and be home mid-afternoon.

Before he sprung this idea on anyone else, McLamb and his brother, Donnie, went on a test run last November. Declaring the trip a success, the two brothers were joined by Sparks and Kent’s brother-in-law, Gale Adams, in late April for the official Sunny Side Turnaround.

Golf was certainly a big part of the trip, but the destination of emphasis was the Sunny Side. “If you’re looking for a white table cloth kind of place, it probably wouldn’t be your speed,” says McLamb.

The Sunny Side Oyster Bar has been serving fresh seafood in eastern N.C. since 1935. It’s only open in months with an “r,” which means it opens for the season in September and closes at the end of the following April, mainly with an hour or more wait on the weekends.

Oysters are the main attraction and are served only two ways: steamed or raw. They’re accompanied by Sunny Side’s secret hot sauce. Shrimp, scallops, and crab legs make up the rest of the menu. And if you insist on something green, you can get broccoli with cheese sauce. That’s it.

“At most seafood restaurants, you could get a hush puppy or cole slaw,” says Sparks. “Not at the Sunny Side. The food was great and we had the best time. We’ll be doing that again.”

They returned to Raleigh at about 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, as calculated. “You feel like you’ve had a full weekend, but you still have a lot of your Saturday and all day Sunday to do whatever you want for the rest of the weekend,” says McLamb

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It's Chase with the ace!

by Casey Griffith

 Apr 05, 2018 at 3:22 PM

The pros, trainers, and coaches of McConnell Golf love nothing more than to foster and celebrate member successes. In this spirit, we’re launching the #MCGkudos campaign. You’ll see it used by our clubs throughout the year to initiate a round of well-deserved congratulations across the sister properties.


Meet 10-year-old Chase Duncan.

He recently shot his first hole-in-one at TPC Wakefield Plantation, acing hole No. 7 while playing with his father. He is the youngest McConnell Golf member to do so at any property.

“My Dad shot the yardage at 90 and he said maybe an 8 iron,” says Chase. “I said, ‘I think it’s a 9.’ I was right. When I saw it go in, we both yelled and were excited.”

For his father, Jon Duncan, it was both a proud and humbling moment.

“Anything that your child accomplishes that makes them truly excited is always a blessing to watch in person,” he says. “Then when they remind you that you have never accomplished that same thing, you realize that a 10-year-old is better at golf then you.”

Prior to his hole-in-one, Chase was named the 2017 Junior of the Year at WP. He started playing when he was four years old; now, he’s a strong member of the 2017 PGA Junior League squad. Last year, he won the Junior Club Championship Nine & Under Division with a solid round of 39, seven strokes better than his nearest competitor.

This past summer, Chase teamed up with his Dad to post a stellar score of 37 and claim a Modified Pinehurst Parent-Child event at WP. Needless to say, the father-son duo have a lot of golf ahead of them. We’re certain there’s an ace out there for Dad in the future!

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The Future is Bright

by John Maginnes

 Mar 20, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Harold Varner III on his North Carolina roots and promising future.

Harold Varner III is enjoying his third full season on the PGA Tour, and he’s one of the few PGA Tour players who looks like he’s actually having fun on the golf course. During his time at East Carolina University, he was the first Pirate to be named Conference USA Player of the Year — and his progress has been steady since. I caught up with Harold in Palm Springs, CA, shortly before the Career Builder Challenge. We did not delight in the fact that we were there on a 75-degree day, while North Carolina was under a blanket of snow. (At least, we tried not to.) Perhaps as much as any in the golf world, Harold appreciates his good fortune, because it came as a result of hard work.

Maginnes: When did you know that you could compete with the best players in the game?

Varner: I had an idea in college because I had a great junior year and started beating most of the best players. Obviously you have to be on top of your game, but I never really doubted myself.

Maginnes: When you were a kid, the Wells Fargo Championship came to Charlotte, and there was the Wyndham as well. Did you attend?

Varner: Definitely. I remember it vividly. We went to the old Wachovia [now Wells Fargo] in all kinds of weather. Especially when Tiger was playing every year, obviously being my favorite player. I love playing in them. Last year being in contention in Greensboro brought out a lot of ECU fans, and my sister lives in Greensboro, so that was a really cool week.

Maginnes: You didn’t play in the Tiger Woods era, but maybe that era isn’t quite over. What are you expecting from Tiger in his latest comeback?

Varner: I don’t want to put too many expectations out there for him. I just want him to play a full season healthy. It’s crazy how important that is now. I personally can’t imagine not being able to play golf even if it wasn’t out here on the PGA Tour. So just to be able to play and have his body hold up would be great.

Maginnes: You have the jump man hat on and the MJ shoes. How did you meet Michael Jordan?

Varner: I was asked to play in the HoopTee, which is the charity event run by the Hornets. Fred Whitfield is someone that I got to know and he put in a good word for me, and it’s just a great opportunity to work with the brand. Being from North Carolina and being associated with one of the greatest names in sports is pretty cool. And the shoes and clothes are awesome.

Maginnes: Twenty years from now, when your career is winding down, what do you want your legacy to be?

Varner: I want to have made the world a better place. There is too much money and opportunity out here not to affect change. I have this tremendous stage to have my voice heard, so I don’t know why I wouldn’t use it.

Maginnes: Some of that change you can affect is at home in North Carolina. Will that always be home?

Varner: Always. My parents are there, and I just moved back to Charlotte. I will always call it home.

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Comfort Food

by Martha-Page Althaus

 Mar 14, 2018 at 1:58 PM

Country Club of Asheville provided warm meals this winter.

There's Strength in Numbers for McConnell Golf’s Footprints on the Green program. For a successful outreach, both members and staff come together to support local communities, and that’s exactly what happened last fall in Asheville, when members and staff joined forces for their first Footprints effort.

CCA sent nine volunteers to participate in a meal-prep initiative at ABCCM Steadfast House, a shelter for women and children that provides stability, education, and job training.

Debbie Ponder, the club’s membership and marketing director, was part of the group that spent the day in the kitchen at Steadfast House assembling more than a dozen freezer-ready chicken and rice casseroles. Residents at Steadfast House enjoyed the meals throughout the winter.

“After we finished prepping the casseroles, we had a Q&A with Steadfast House staff,” says Ponder. “We’re hoping to establish a meaningful relationship between the club and Steadfast. We’re located so close to each other, and we hope to be able to do more.”

Member Gail Miller helped with the effort after reading about it in CCA’s newsletter.

“We were spreading freezer pans all over the place and filling them up,” she says. “Big casserole dishes for the residents to pull out of the freezer all winter long.”

For Miller, along with the rest of CCA’s volunteers, the day was about more than just prepping meals.

“It was good exposure. I didn’t even know Steadfast House existed. As a group, we learned more about the community and what’s being offered to help.”

“After that day, we all agreed — we need to do this more,” says Ponder.

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Elby Bikes Zip & Zoom at McConnell Golf

by Casey Griffith

 Mar 08, 2018 at 8:55 PM

McConnell Golf recently caught up with partner Elby bikes to discuss the booming popularity of a classic machine, re-imagined. The electric bike. 


Why the decision to venture into the private golf segment?

E-bikes generally offer a great way for people to get around, from young urban dwellers all the way up to active retirees in residential communities. With so many of these communities featuring golf as well, the move is natural: golfers appreciate being outside, spending time with others, and need to travel distances ideally without getting in cars. The Elby enables all of these and adds the bonus of a really fun ride.


How do electric bikes translate from urban settings to suburban?

E-bikes are all about taking the time-tested benefits of traditional bicycles and removing some of the exertion and effort that may make them less of an option for others. So, a good e-bike, like a good traditional bike, is useful in any setting. Where a bike like the Elby has an edge in the suburbs is around its extended range. With more ground to cover in the suburbs, an 80+ mile range on the Elby battery is a huge help.

The Elby’s also incredibly adjustable, so entire households, regardless of age, gender, and physical size can enjoy one Elby bike. That makes it a great replacement for a car, which is really the best case for any electric bike.


Share a little about the need Elby bikes serves its patrons.

The nice thing about a bike like the Elby is how it serves different needs for different people. Right off, and most universally, the Elby is a pure joy to ride. That first feeling of silent, electric boost to your pedaling recalls your first pedal strokes as a kid. It’s just a magical feeling.

More practically, Elby provides an efficient, green, and fun way to get to work, run errands, grocery shop, or make that morning tee time. Getting where you need to go on a bike instead of a car is nearly always more pleasant, more personally engaging, and better for the environment.

There’s also the "sneaky workout” side of things. While you’re not really breaking a sweat on an Elby, you do see a basic increase in heart-rate with all the stress-reducing benefits of exercise.  We hear from Elby users all the time that they dropped weight and were less stressed and angry at work and home after switching to an Elby.


Where do you see the company in five/ten years? And electric bikes in general?

E-bikes are already saving the cycling industry. Almost every segment of the industry, from mountain bikes to kids helmets, is seeing a decline in business metrics from previous years. In stark contrast, e-bike sales and growth are up. This is an extremely positive sign. Urban and suburban residents are just beginning to see how much better their morning commutes, and health, could be with an e-bike. We only expect this trend to continue as e-bikes become a ubiquitous sight in cities across the globe. In five years, ten years, and even twenty years, we expect Elby to continue to be a leader in the e-bike space.

Since the beginning, Elby has been about creating a better mobility solution for people, whether that’s replacing a car or just adding a new way to move through our communities. The S1, our step-through model, we accomplished this through the most size-adjustable frame on the market, enabling the Elby to serve entire homes, offices, or even large planned communities. With the newer C1, we've created an extremely capable, reliable, and enjoyable e-bike at a great price. We're now seeing urban planners considering bikes more than ever as our cities and towns are becoming more efficient with space and more supportive of healthier transportation options.


What has surprised you about the way Elby bikes have been received?

We've been most surprised by just how positive cities have been towards e-bikes. We're working with communities in the US and Canada to help them develop roads, housing, and even hotels to be more friendly to e-bikes, because people realize how important diverse transportation options are to their health, their environment, and their quality of life.


Has Elby inspired those not already into biking to give it a try? What do you think non-bikers find appealing about it?

All the time! By design, Elby is encouraging to ride. Its bright colors and aerofoil-inspired design are definitely eye-grabbing. Once riders feel the electric boost provided as they pedal ahead, it's impossible not to see the appeal. For non-cyclists, the Elby is really able to meet them where they ride, commute or play and remove most of the barriers associated with traditional bikes. You don’t need training or specialized gear or spandex to get on an Elby and go. The Elby is fun, fast, and easy, regardless of fitness level. There’s no hill too tall!


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