Perspective is Important in Sports – Ask Erik Compton

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The most difficult, gruelling, frustrating, emotional tournament in golf is the U.S. Open, played this past week in Pinehurst, North Carolina.


If a professional golfer wants to torture himself and be humbled, the U.S. Open will do it. It is meant to push players to the limits of their physical, mental and emotional abilities.


For young athletes, a beautiful lesson in perspective can be taken from this year’s event from PGA Tour player Erik Compton.


Compton has heart troubles … literally. He has had two heart transplants and has been at the door of death as a result.


Compton is not big, he’s not flashy and he doesn’t look like an athlete. He had success as a young golfer and was earmarked as an “up and comer” in his younger years. He had talent.


Compton is competing against the best golfers in the world at Pinehurst, on one of the most difficult tests in the world, in very hot temperatures, under the most extreme pressure – his country’s national championship. And, he’s doing it with his 3rd heart. He went through a gruelling, 36-hole qualifier the week before the U.S. Open just to get in to the event. He is restricted in what he can do because of his heart issues. He can’t practice as much, he can work-out as much – he has to be very efficient in how he does things.


But, Erik Compton has a big advantage over every player in the field. He may not look like an imposing, sculpted athlete, but I guarantee that life … and sports … is in perspective for Compton – and this allows him to enjoy the “torture” at Pinehurst and enjoy any perceived pressure felt by other players.

Erik Compton


“I think my attitude suits a US Open style course because I don’t ever give up. I’m extremely hard on myself, but I tend to forget the shots I hit bad and move to the next hole. Sometimes I don’t even know what hole I’m on because I’m trying to execute and then move to the next shot. I guess that’s kind of reflective of how I always lived my life. If you have a bad situation or a bad day, you get up and try to do it again.”


Fear is something that all athletes feel. They look into the future and paint pictures of what might happen and the feeling of uncertainty or doubt comes over them. “What happens if I don’t play well when I have the chance” … “What happens if I fall apart” … “What happens if “ …


Erik Compton has dealt with fear at the highest level – “What happens if my heart doesn’t work?” So, I expect that fear at the golf level really doesn’t enter his mind. He has a new lease on life and he’s going to take advantage of it, enjoy it – and challenges the average player might consider barriers are seen as opportunities for Erik Compton.


We can all learn from Erik’s success. Sports is not life or death. Maintaining a healthy perspective and looking at challenges as opportunities … and enjoying those opportunities is key to great performance.