FOR MOST OF his career, Jim Herman was your journeyman golf pro from central casting. He had talent but lacked confidence. The one thing that set him apart was a two-year stint, about a decade ago, as an assistant pro at Trump National Golf Club, in Bedminster, N.J. Donald Trump told Herman repeatedly that he belonged on the PGA Tour. Herman could see what Trump's colossal self-belief did for Trump, but he couldn't apply any of that to his own game.
Herman got his PGA Tour card in 2011 but didn't make enough money to keep it. The same thing happened in '13 and in '14. At the end of that season, after a cry on the shoulder of his wife, Carolyn, Herman finally decided to do what others had been urging him to do for years: hire a "head" coach. The PGA Tour is lousy with sports psychologists with Ph.D.'s., but Herman didn't go for anyone like that. He went to Tim Kremer, who gets in the head of his "students" (not "patients") with nothing more extensive than a master's in communications from Iowa. "We don't talk about problems," Kremer says. His go-to phrase is "Be in the now."
It has been hard for Herman. It's hard for many professional golfers. They can't let go of mistakes. They anticipate. That's where the Kremer mantra is useful: Where are you now?
In 2015, Herman finished 74th on the Tour money list. He kept his card. In April he found himself in the final group in the last round of the Houston Open. He had a one-shot lead as he waited for eight long minutes to play his final tee shot on the 18th hole. It would have been easy for wild ideas to get in his head about how a victory would change his life. Instead he stayed in the moment, striped his drive and, at the ripe old age of 38, won his first PGA Tour event. "I've got a team around me now," Herman says, after years of going it alone. "Tim is a big part of it."
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Pressure Putts Can Be Good for You
"Now I find golf relaxing, but it wasn't always that way. When I played competitively, I felt my mental and physical stamina were constantly being tested. Through golf I grew to understand and even like pressure, which helps me tremendously in my career. I also learned a lot about patience, concentration and discipline, which never hurts!"
SI Swimsuit model and former member of the Georgetown golf team
How to Now
Here are two tricks Tim Kremer has taught Jim Herman to help the golfer avoid overthinking.
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Focus on the mundane
Herman and his caddie often recount Seinfeld episodes, but talking about other sports or cars works just as well.
When Herman holed a pitch on the 16th hole of the final round in Houston, he fist-pumped, ran around and acted nothing like his regular self. Says Herman, "Tim encourages you to enjoy the highs and take pride in what you have done."
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STACY REVERE/GETTY IMAGES (HERMAN)
YU TSAI (ROHRBACH)
MARTIN LAKSMAN (ILLUSTRATION)
JOEY DELVALLE/NBCU PHOTO BANK/GETTY IMAGES (SEINFELD)