The power of longevity

Challenge Tour player Chris Paisley joins us in celebrating 100 editions of Northern Golfer, and plots his course back to the highest level

Congratulations to everyone at Northern Golfer on reaching your 100th edition! The older I get, the more I am impressed with longevity, so well done.

I’m not sure exactly how many articles I have done now, but having looked back at several of them, it is interesting to re-live the highs and lows of my career so far. I am glad that I have always tried to be honest – it certainly makes it more meaningful and worthwhile to read back through my columns.

What has struck me most is the delayed relationship between my general mood and my performances on the course. What tends to happen is that I am in a good place for a period, not necessarily playing particularly well, but soon after, I begin knocking in good results. I have learned over the years that my mood is not dictated by where my game or career is in that exact moment, but where I instinctively see myself heading. Stay with me as I unpack this thought.

Last season I was playing on the DP World Tour. From the outside looking in, I was living the dream – at least early in the season. The problem was that I knew, mostly subconsciously, that I was on the wrong path. My stress levels, irritability and anxiety were at an all-time high. What followed was the worst season of my career. I was working on the wrong things in the wrong way. I had fallen into so many bad habits that my internal compass was scrambled. All the while I was kidding myself, thinking ‘It’s going to click soon’. In reality, I knew deep down that I was headed for the Challenge Tour. By the time I admitted it, it was too late to save my season.

Currently, I am a 36-year-old who essentially lost his job and a ton of money last season as I was relegated to the Challenge Tour. Despite this, I am as happy as I have ever been. I now know I am headed in the right direction and it feels like the only reason I am not back on the DP World Tour competing to win is time.

It is so easy to become results-oriented in this game. What works for me is making sure I have all my ducks in a row away from tournaments. If my processes are correct and my family is happy, then I know good results are around the corner. Good processes lead to competence, and competence leads to confidence. You can’t just pluck confidence out of thin air, despite what most people think! The tricky part is being self-aware enough to determine if your processes are correct. Last year I was not honest with myself and I wasn’t looking at things logically. This is so easy to do. In order to avoid heading down the wrong path you need a great team around you. You need to plan and reflect with complete honesty. Even doing this, you will make mistakes, but it’s kind of like having the sides up in bowling – you get pushed back on the correct course pretty quickly, rather than getting stuck in the gutter!

I am proud of my career so far, but I truly believe my best days are ahead of me. Last year was the worst of my life professionally, but it now feels like a springboard to elevate me to new heights.