Applying Golf’s Positives to Roping with Clay O'Brien Cooper


My hobby is golf, and I’m infatuated with it. I watch the tournaments, and the shows where the commentators break it all down, and interview and analyze the great golfers. Golf is a lot like roping, in that your winning percentage is actually pretty low. In our sport, even the best guys only win a small percentage of the time, and they’re the elite ropers. One thing I’ve noticed about golfers is that you don’t find a lot of pessimism or negativity. Ropers at every level can benefit from borrowing that positivity from the game of golf.

Golfers are somehow trained to pull positive thoughts and feelings from whatever they’re doing—be it analyzing the round they just played, their technique, what they’re working on or their goals. Golfers learn to train themselves to look at everything with a positive attitude. When figuring out how to achieve their goals, they use a big-picture way of looking at everything they do and don’t get bogged down in the little stuff that doesn’t matter.

Whether I’m working with recreational ropers or working at my hobby of golf, I’m intrigued by the psyche and mindset of competitive people. What’s very apparent across the board is that perspective makes all the difference. We can naturally fall into negative thoughts when we fail, whether it’s a bad practice session or we go to a roping and don’t execute the plan.

Everyone’s had those feelings of failure and hopelessness. As one example, if you miss the high teamer, you’re going to be bummed. But how we deal with those sad, mad thoughts makes or breaks us.

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What always brought me out of the depths of despair when it came to heeling was my fanaticism. When I failed, I was disappointed and frustrated, like everyone else. But I funneled that frustration into figuring out what went wrong. Then I gritted my teeth and studied videos. I couldn’t wait to get right back at it. It’s just a compulsion that’s been in me since I was 10 years old.

There have been times when things weren’t going my way when I’ve had to step back and look at the big picture. This is what I love to do, and life is about pressing hard and getting back up after failure. You’re never out of the game if you don’t ever quit. The only losers are the ones who stop trying.

As we age, the process of digging in and fighting for what we want doesn’t go away. In fact, most of us have to work even harder as we get older. I turn 60 this month, and things aren’t the same as when I was 20. In our youth, we’re strong and agile. As we get older, our bodies and minds start giving us different messages. But choosing the positive path pays off at every age.

I’ve never given in to negative thoughts. I may have been down, but I’ve never been out. I always figured, “By golly, tomorrow’s a new day, and I’m going to keep working at it, physically and mentally.” Thinking like that goes for roping, golf and everything else we want to achieve in life.

Roper’s Reprieve: Cowboy-Friendly Golf Cours­es

I want to be respectful of other people, and enjoy relationships and friendships. It all goes hand-in-hand when it comes to being the best we can be in all we do. To do that, we need to fight for our best every single day, keep our attitude good and our thoughts positive.

I’m a Christian, so my perspectives on life come from God. He’s who has blessed me. The way I see it, it’s my job to be the best I can be and stay positive. That’s who I was created to be—to do everything in all aspects of my life to the best of my ability, and to be happy.

Having a good attitude, having fun and living life enthusiastically is a choice. A friend of mine told me that during one of my little burnouts after I’d been grinding for about 10 years early in my career. I was thinking, “Man, this is hard,” and having negative thoughts. My friend said, “Hey, your attitude is a choice you make every day.” It was like a bell went off. We all choose how we live our lives, and what we get out of them. When we make the right choices, it always pays off.

Roping Progress Doesn’t Happen Overnight with Clay O’Brien Cooper 

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