Golf trainer puts focus on mental game

Thursday, April 07, 2011
By John Boyette
Sports Editor

If Dawn Grant can persuade Vijay Singh to believe he is the world's greatest putter, chances are she can help you with your golf game.

Grant, who works with golfers through a combination of mental training and hypnotherapy, is in Augusta this week. She has worked with about a dozen players on the PGA and LPGA tours, including Cameron Beckman and Laura Diaz.

Singh, the 2000 Masters Tournament winner, is her most famous client. He overcame his putting woes to triumph at Augusta National Golf Club and to win the PGA Championship twice, but late in the 2008 season he was suffering from lack of confidence on the putting greens.

He had won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but then missed the cut in the next two events before the FedEx Cup playoffs began.

"They called me, and I worked with him several hours each day specific to putting," Grant said. "That's where we came up with, 'I'm the best putter in the world.' I said no more talking about your putting problem."

She convinced Singh -- and his caddie, trainer and others around him -- that he should be referred to as the best putter in the world.

Singh went on to win the first two playoff events, The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship, and captured the 2008 FedEx Cup title.

"This is the world's best putter. What a week! Especially for me," Singh said in a testimonial for Grant. "I'm just thankful for what happened last week, and I am grateful for the sessions we had."

Grant, who is based in Amelia Island, Fla., said she believes mental training can be useful in all facets of life.

"We've got an extremely powerful mind, but nobody gives us an owner's manual," she said. "When people go to a therapist, people say there's something wrong with you. How about there's something right with you?"

In addition to one-on-one sessions, Grant has released apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch that are available for purchase at her Web site, dawngrant.com. The golf apps focus on confidence, putting and the short game.

Her relationship with Singh ended shortly after his success in 2008, and he has not won a PGA Tour event since.

"Vijay saw huge results and now Dawn doesn't get a phone call," she said. "He believed that he was fine. That is a big, big no-no."

Singh said after a practice round Tuesday at Augusta National that his putting was "very good."

Grant says that, like a golf swing, "the mental skills need to be practiced."

"The good news with my sessions is that they are life skills," she said. "I teach my clients that at every waking moment they have an opportunity to practice them."

Older players such as six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus don't understand the attraction between today's players and specialty coaches.

"Today the guys are with a strength coach; they go with a nutritionist; they go with their workout guy; they have got five or six guys traveling with them," Nicklaus said. "I couldn't afford that.

"I'm not trying to put it down; it's a different generation. It's a different day. But I really think guys would be better players if they didn't run back all the time and try to figure out their own problems."

Nicklaus said he consulted a pretty good person when he needed advice.

"My wife," he said. "She had a great head on her shoulders."

Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or john.boyette@augustachronicle.com.