Golf

The painful training this President Cupper endures to sharpen mental toughness

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Sebastian Muñoz is appearing in his first Presidents Cup this week at Quail Hollow.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Presidents Cup ain’t your typical golf event.
When 24 of the best players in the world get together to duke it out, the energy is unmatched. The crowds are rowdier, the players more jacked up and every birdie celebrated like it just clinched a major. Say goodbye to polite golf claps and hello to unabashed roars.
With those contrasts in mind, it takes a different mindset for players to be successful. Team golf requires players to perform not only for themselves, but also for the other 11 members of their squad. This adds an entirely new element to the mental grind of golf. If you fail, you’re not only letting down yourself — you’re letting down your teammates, too.
Presidents Cuppers at Quail Hollow this week are well aware of this fact, and it’s affecting how they’re preparing for the grind. In early-week player availabilities, a handful of stars were asked what is required this week to be successful. And while the answers varied, one theme emerged: mental toughness.
Sebastian Muñoz is among the camp that is putting a premium on mental toughness this week. The 29-year-old is making his first Presidents Cup appearance this week, and he knows the hill the underdog International team faces. If they hope to prove the oddsmakers wrong, mental toughness will be a key ingredient.
To enhance his mental toughness, Muñoz has opted for a brutal technique: ice plunges.
“I’ve been training my mind a little bit,” he said. “Trying to get in uncomfortable situations and being able to hold in there, just to be able to push, just to be able to know that I’m not as fragile as I may think.”
Muñoz said when he began using the technique, he could keep only his foot submerged in the tub for five to 10 seconds before he had to bail. But after a month of training his body — and his mind — he can now hold it for up to five minutes.
To make the exercise even more brutal, Muñoz does the ice plunge first thing every morning. According to a podcast he listens to (Huberman Lab), he said, frigid baths increase the dopamine the body produces.
“I find it to be the toughest thing to do in the morning,” he said. “After that, the day becomes easy.”
If you can survive an early-morning ice plunge, you can survive anything. Maybe even being a massive underdog at the Presidents Cup.

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.
GOLF.com and GOLF Magazine are published by EB GOLF MEDIA LLC, a division of 8AM GOLF

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