The PGA Championship and the Mind-set of a Dad


The 94th PGA Championship starts today. Most professional golfers will tell you that golf is as much, or more, of a mental game than anything else. The mind-set of the golfer is all-important.

On the green of golf, they call it the “Bogeyman.” It’s a mind-set that many professional golfers have that causes them to putt more accurately from all distances when putting for par than when putting for birdie. Why? Because the players fear the bogey more than they desire the birdie. In a 2009 Wharton School University of Pennsylvania study, the researchers who came to these conclusions estimated that this determination for avoiding a negative, a bogey, more than gaining an equal positive, a birdie—known in economics as loss aversion—costs the average pro golfer about one stroke per 72-hole tournament, and the top twenty golfers about $1.2 million in prize money a year.

How golfers think, their mind-set, affects how they play. It’s no different with dads. Many fathers, due to various influences, just focus on making par as a parent, rather than going for the win. A fear-of-failure mind-set often causes fathers and kids to lose precious opportunities for greatness in their relationship.

Mind-set is simply your way of thinking, your mental attitude, or your state of mind about something. Your mind-set as a man and a father is greatly influenced by your past. You are, to a certain extent, a product of your past. Your upbringing, family, friends, books, our culture, and the media are just a few of the things that shape your current mind-set. For better or worse, one of the greatest past influences on your mind-set as a father is your father.

While we don’t want to dwell on it, it’s important to understand that your father–good, bad, or in between–greatly influenced your life. Most men are not neutral about their fathers. If they had a loving example in their dad growing up, they are more likely to want to be and parent just like him. If their father was not there at all, or emotionally absent, some guys, unfortunately, will just follow in his footsteps. Others will want to be the exact opposite, sometimes out of bitterness, anger, or even hatred. But a man should want to be the best he can be—an All Pro Dad—not to spite his father, but out of a compelling desire to love and lead his children well.

I can’t erase your way of thinking about fatherhood. And I don’t want to. My guess is that you’ve learned many things over the years that have proven to be beneficial in your journey as a dad. Instead, I’d like to shift your thinking. So what’s this new way of thinking? It’s thinking of your role as a father as being your job—your most important job—because it is. That should be your mind-set.

So if you agree that being a dad is your most important job, you need to be able to answer the question: “What is my job description as a father?”

Your job description outlines your duties as a dad as you serve in this distinguished role in your family. Just remember, your job description doesn’t cover everything you do; it simply provides an overview of your responsibilities.

Here are three starting essentials of your position.

1. Love Your Wife

Actively loving your wife will radically strengthen your marriage and will also be incredibly beneficial to your children. The number one source of security for kids is when they know that their dad loves their mother and is steadfastly committed to her for life. If you are not married to your child’s mother, you can still exhibit respect, patience, and kindness in your relationship with her no matter what she says or does.

2. Spend Time with Your Kids

How you spend your time is a reflection of what’s important to you. If you value your kids, you’ll want to be with them. Build monuments with, and for, your children that will create loving memories to last a lifetime. Spend one-on-one time with them doing things that they want to do. Remember, it’s not just about quality time; it’s about quantity time.

3. Be a Role Good Model

It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of a father modeling the type of behavior he desires to see in his children. Role models live a life of consistency wherever they are and whoever they are with. They don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk of an honorable man. Want to be your children’s hero? Then be what you want your children to be.

Don’t just putt for par as a dad; go for the big win. Choose today to get in the game and show your kids you’re in it to win it—to win their hearts. Now that will be something worth celebrating.

What are some ways you get into the right mind-set as a dad? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Portions of this article are taken from Mark Merrill’s new book, All Pro Dad: Seven Essentials to Be a Hero to Your Kids. Published by Thomas Nelson. For more, check out

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