Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Cal Shapiro, a recording artist known for his crazy run with Timeflies, 8+ years of sold out tours, 250+ million streams on Spotify, and charting #1 on iTunes, is now doing the solo artist thing known as "Cal" and hopping aboard the Par Train whenever he can.
When Cal isn't making music, he fires at pins as a 2 handicap. We dig into his mental game, his tendencies, the parallels of making music and playing golf, simulating nerves, optimism, and he even makes a custom Par Train beat on the spot. Follow Cal on IG at @whatupcal and search "Cal" on Spotify.
We run back highlights of the conversation here on The Par Train blog:
What is your Big Miss? Avoid the Big Numbers and Immediately See Lower Scores
Controlled aggression is key to making committed, yet safe plays. When you know your tendencies, you can introduce confidence without foolish audacity. If you are a left to right player looking at a right pin, this is the time to shine. If it is a left pin with trouble left, you know the moment isn’t playing to your strength. Just get comfortable with a center green and move on.
There is no better way to getting out of your own way then by playing a less high-risk brand of golf.
Do More by Doing Less in Golf and in Life
Cal talks about one of the great insights facing players of all levels: why do we question our own success? We all know that moment. You are entering uncharted territory, playing your best golf, when all of a sudden the mind gets excited. Thoughts of the past or future creep in. “I have never been this low before” or, “I wonder what I will end up shooting for 18.”
How do you just stay out of the way and enjoy the game?
There are a million different tropes we have all heard before; stay in the moment, one shot at a time, let it go… these ideas are rooted in something actually useful, but are difficult to ingest until they are worded in the way that makes sense to that player. The journey of golf is working to find that lesson that is learned in the way that clicks.
The Parallels of Overthinking in Music and Golf
Cal’s experience with freestyle rap showed him how to trust his instincts moment to moment. As soon as doubt, fear, desire for success or other thoughts enter, the task at hand is no longer the focus. Check out the pod to get more insights from Cal on how he remains actively engaged without trying too hard.
In a Par Train exclusive, Cal Shapiro performs on the show. Unedited and 100% freestyle as he improvises his thoughts live as the topics are fed to him from Evan and Cerm.
Commitment and Process
Attaching to the ego is the surefire way to becoming distracted from the best result. This behavior is actualized by believing that on-course results define you or your self worth. The result is not achieved via shortcut. Golf takes a long time. Cal’s recording journey has been similar to many of our golf journeys. Questioned by self-doubt as a producer, he learned to “let it fly” and become comfortable in his own ear. The analogy lends itself to golf in the sense that a swing coach or mechanically trained golfer would look at certain behaviors with a critical eye. Yet, the majority of better players have found their swing for themselves, have broken the rules and found something that cannot be taken from them. This is what it means to own your swing.
Cal learned the game by getting very comfortable with the wedge. If you can learn to trust your wedge, whether at the pro level or for 20 handicaps, trusting your game around the green will allow you to make up for tons of mistakes. Imagine missing a green and still considering it a potential birdie. This is how better players relieve stress throughout their game. Missed drive? I can make it up. Missed green? Could still make birdie. Cal has learned to play the course backwards which relieves a lot of anxiety.
Next shot up mentality is key to remaining optimistic. You are constantly in a position of potential success. Denying that is not being realistic.
All you have is what’s in front of you. When you look at great chess players, they don’t always make the right move. They look at their situation and figure out how to make the best out of it. Applying this to course management might not guarantee a par, but it will definitely help turn big numbers into more palatable mistakes.
Kill Your Memory for Lower Scores
Does your memory hear “don’t” when you say “don’t hit it in the water”? For whatever reason, the mind listens to the thing louder than the negation (don’t). The work to reduce the tension around something you don’t want to do gets in the way of doing what you actually are trying to do. This is the process of learning from mistakes without dwelling on them.
Prepare for the Moment
How do you practice first-tee jitters? It’s tough to enjoy the moments that make you stressed out. The first tee, that three foot putt for par... These are the moments that often cause problematic anxiety in the majority of players. We discuss different ways that top level players intentionally create stress or adrenaline during practice to become ready for pressure moments.
Whether you are a competitive player or new to the game, nerves are going to be part of the process. Be sure to tune into this pod to learn how Cal Shapiro has dazzled millions with his ability to get out of his own way and let it fly.
Get out of your own way by focusing on being present with the task at hand and thinking less about it’s implications.
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