Brooks Koepka has faced dips in form during his career, but despite this he always looks rock-solid in the face of pressure. Perhaps it’s down to his mindset of always being ready to adapt to shifting challenges?
RSNG.com caught up with the Florida-born 32-year-old to find out the secret to his confidence, and ask what he thinks of the high-tech technique aids that some golfers are starting to swear by.
RSNG You come across as a player who can not only manage the variables that come with golf, but thrive on them. Would you agree?
BROOKS KOEPKA, GOLFER “Yes, but only because golf is entirely about variables. Every single shot is different, every situation.
“If you can’t handle the variables in golf you probably shouldn’t be playing it, because fundamentally what golf tests is your ability to deal with constant alternative challenges. I can think of many sports that reward repetition under almost identical circumstances, but golf isn’t one.”
RSNG Have you suffered a lack of confidence at any point in your career?
BROOKS KOEPKA “Of course, everyone will move across the range, but there will always be an underlying level of confidence that you can never deviate from.
“I am a confident player, I am all-in, I am constantly pushing myself. Not everyone is like that – which is fine. Put another way I can’t be anyone else. If I dulled the way I am then I wouldn’t win stuff, it’s that simple.”
RSNG Do people ever misinterpret confidence for arrogance?
BROOKS KOEPKA “Undoubtedly. I look at all my sporting heroes and they all went about their work with determination that got misinterpreted. I’m sure of that.
“They didn’t care what anyone thought of them, though. And actually, when their run of success was done, no-one, looking back, talked about their arrogance, or even their confidence – they just reflected on their successes. That’s what people remember.”
RSNG What do you think of the LIV controversy, as it rolls on?
BROOKS KOEPKA, LIV GOLFER “I think in life you have to respect the choices other people make. You also need to respect the fact people change their minds and reassess at every turn.
“If there is one type of person who constantly reassesses where they are in life, it’s a golfer! Think about it – after every shot we re-tune our approach. I am definitely comfortable with every decision I have made in golf, and that’s all that matters.”
I don’t think rolling back any ball technology is going to affect me – there are much bigger challenges you encounter as a golfer
RSNG Let’s talk about the debate that comes back around every now and again regarding ball technology, and whether it may be rolled back to limit driving length. Do you think that is a challenge you can overcome and turn to your advantage?
BROOKS KOEPKA “I know there are a lot of golfers who really take the standard and grade of ball very seriously, and I can see why. You can get a five-piece ball to do a lot more than something of a lower quality, and it’s all about how the structure of that ball influences and complements your game.
“I am the type of player who likes the physicality of the ball and being able to get it down the fairway or out of the rough without too much trouble. I don’t think rolling back any technology is going to affect me – it’s not like I have one part of my game that I play to. I’m a technical player as well as a physical player; and ultimately, I feel there are much bigger challenges you encounter as a golfer… the wind, the lie, even the pressure.”
RSNG You often appear to deal with the pressure of the big tournaments better than the rest of the field. Is there a mental routine you use?
BROOKS KOEPKA “When I was growing up I used to hate that phrase ‘you are only as good as your next shot’, but that’s actually the way I choose to play my game.
“The next shot is the only shot I’m thinking about. Yes, if I am on a certain hole I may be planning ahead to see how I can get it to the green, but that is strictly as far as I will go. I would never be the sort of golfer who might play safe on one hole knowing what pars are coming up and how I might then play future tees. I’m not like that – I’m all in the moment and I’m all in my moment. I don’t pay attention to anything else around me.
“So it’s not so much a routine – more it’s me just focusing on keeping everything internal and calm. It’s as close to my natural game that I can get – I’m not letting anything else in.”
Something as integral as a swing technique is so deeply entrenched that I’m not going to start mixing it up mid-round
RSNG How capable are you to diagnose swing faults mid round vs playing with what you have on the day? Is this something you and your coach Claude Harmon work on together?
BROOKS KOEPKA “We will analyze absolutely everything that goes on during a round, but something as integral as a swing technique is so deeply entrenched that I’m not going to start mixing it up mid-round.”
RSNG How influential has TrackMan data been in the shaping of your swing? Do you think the generation that have grown up with TrackMan will be more capable vs those that have had to use some guesswork and wasted time on the practice ground?
BROOKS KOEPKA “I haven’t seriously used TrackMan, but I don’t think any time on the practice ground is wasted, as such. I believe you are always developing, shaping, working away, and figuring out what works right and what doesn’t.
“Repetition is everything in this sport and I view it like a fact-finding mission, where I’m constantly solving problems.
“Being back working with Claude has helped me solve more problems than anything else over the past couple of years. It goes to show that sometimes it really is the people you have around you and not the tech. That’s an important lesson.”
WHAT NEXT? Find out how to apply ‘deliberate practice’ to improve your golf game, in RSNG.com’s interview with Talent Is Overrated author Geoff Colvin.
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