Interview with Ben Crane

Post image for Interview with Ben Crane

This interview includes a conversation about Ben’s mental game.  Ben has been working closely with Lanny & Troy Bassham and is applying Mental Management on the PGA Tour.

MARK WILLIAMS: Ben Crane, thanks for joining us, first round 4-under 67 at THE PLAYERS. Had a couple of Top 10s in a row here the last couple years, so you obviously have a liking to this golf course. Looks like you hit a lot of fairways today, 6-under with four to play, and just kind of a funky finish. Talk to us about your round and explain the finish to us a little bit.

BEN CRANE: Yeah, played well all day and had a little trouble on the 4th, but was able to get up-and-down from 75 yards for bogey, which always feels good to execute like that and keep things going. So I felt encouraged after that.

And then really played just very solid after that. We had more opportunities today to make birdies certainly because the rain last night, and the greens were receptive. So hitting 5 and 6-irons in that are only bouncing forward four or five paces certainly allows — makes some of those back pins accessible. You fly the ball almost back to the hole.

I was in a fairway a lot today and was able to really — the hole that comes to mind is really 6 there — I guess 5. 5 normally is really kind of harder to access that back pin high and only went a couple paces past the hole. You start realizing that you really want to start playing aggressively into the greens today.

Comment on the finish?

MARK WILLIAMS: Yeah, a couple of bogeys in the last four holes and obviously getting to 6-under early.

BEN CRANE: Yeah, I had a bogey on 15. Just an iron shot that missed the green right and maybe just a little tension there. Hit a good chip that — I missed my spot by a foot. You can get in some places on this golf course where you could be chipping from 20 yards, and if you miss your spot where you’re trying to land the ball by a foot, that could mean the difference in the ball next to the hole versus you’re chipping again.

I was actually pretty happy with it. I got up-and-down for bogey there. Great two shots on 16 to make a birdie.

Great shot on 17. You never know what’s going to happen there (laughing).

And then 18, played a nice hole, a good drive and second shot. And got a little aggressive with my first putt and went a little further by than I expected, and I guess just missed my five or six-footer coming back. But there it is.

Q. Obviously, you proved you can go low on this course in any given round. I guess the challenge now is to do it for 72 holes. The times you’ve been in contention and it hasn’t worked out, have you kind of filed away the experiences, the mistakes, things like that? Do you have a game plan for the next time you can extend this into Sunday?

BEN CRANE: Yeah, I do. I really have an awesome game plan really. For the first time in my career I know exactly what to think about. I know exactly what I should be doing before, during and after each shot. It really has nothing to do with results and has everything to do with just sticking to what we set out to do before the year. So I’m better equipped than I ever have been.

You mentioned that it’s been kind of an up-and-down, and last year I had a great first day and then some solid rounds after that but nothing great. And so I think that I’m equipped now to just go out and do my best more than I’ve ever been. Just trying to separate myself from the results and living and dying by each shot certainly tends to free me up.

Q. Is there somebody you’ve been working with to get to think this way?

BEN CRANE: Yeah, I’ve got a team of eight guys that help me with this particular — I have a mental coach in Lanny Bassham and then my manager Tommy Limbaugh are the guys who work with me daily on this process. That’s something that we’ve been really trying to execute well this year and grade ourselves on as opposed to looking at the scorecard and going, that’s how you should grade yourself.

Q. Could you talk a little bit more about this? You prepare now in your practice rounds by actually working hard on the mental aspect of what you’re going to do and the strategy for playing the golf course. Could you talk about how important that is and how you do it?

BEN CRANE: Yeah, so I try to figure out certainly when I’m preparing to play the golf course, I try to figure out in what situation, in what pin — if it’s a par-4, let’s just take a hole.

Let’s call it No. 12. It’s a hole where it’s a short par-4. You can really lay the ball really all the way up 40 yards from the green or you can come back to 100 yards or whatever. So based on different pins, I’m going to drive the ball in different places based on the wedge numbers I like.

As far as my mental game, yeah, before each shot, we call it the pre-load. I do some things. I have a checklist of basically things I go through that free me up and allow me to really execute the best I can.

The hole, before, during and after each shot, we call that the program, and the whole day we call the process. So how was the process today.

Well, during the shot I really should be — my brain should be very quiet. You should be in your right brain, which is really — I don’t know how I did that, but I did. The thinking brain, computing all the numbers and stuff like that is the left brain, and if you’re thinking too much, that’s when you don’t allow yourself to execute.

Again, and then after each shot, I try to — we call it an imprint, which is just make a motion as if I had hit a perfect shot. This is what it felt like, and you make a correction. Those are the things I do before, during, and after each shot. Sorry for the long explanation.

Q. And just one follow up. How important is that for a golf course like that that’s so strategic?

BEN CRANE: Yeah, if this is not the best golf course we play all year, I don’t know what is. It’s just a great test. The margins are small, and so I think that everything is amplified a little bit more on this golf course, mistakes, great shots, and certainly the way you think.

I think that it’s — I mean, if it’s super-important — I guess yes, the level of importance to be able to do that on this type of a golf course is mandatory.

Q. You mentioned that you self-evaluate and grade yourself for the shot, the day, the week. What would — give me an example of what an A grade would be for a certain shot or a certain week, and what was your best week of the year? And what was your worst week of the year? When did you fall off the wagon? Put this in context through applying it to a normal deal here.

BEN CRANE: Yeah, I fell off the wagon, I would say, in Miami this year at the World Golf (Championships-CA Championship) for the first two days. And fall off the wagon for me means I start working on my swing and was not just allowing myself just to play golf and work on my mental game.

After the first two days in Miami, I felt like we recommitted to our goals this year: Number one, glorify God; number two, execute the process as if it’s primary.

And so I think that was a great lesson for me, and so there’s certainly been a lot of ups and downs.

What was my best week of the year?

Q. Were you doing it in San Diego?

BEN CRANE: Oh, 100 percent. Yeah, I actually had — the first week of the year was Bob Hope for me, and I mean, we just thought — we just set out for the year, this is our process, this is our program for the whole year, and we’ll reevaluate in November. And we decided that we were just going to keep plugging away. We weren’t going to change anything.

And so San Diego was a shock to me. I mean, it’s really the second week where I was fully committed to running this process and program each day and that it was the primary thing to do.

Anyway, again, I’m trying not to be responsible for results or worry about them or think about them, I’m just trying to execute, and how I execute, to answer your question specifically, is I rate each shot a 1 through 5 based on how well I was able to execute the process in the given circumstances. If I get to a nice relaxing place that we’ve determined is the best place for me to play golf from, if I get to that place and then execute my shot or whatever, it doesn’t matter where the ball goes; I then give a number to my caddie and coach, and we move on.

Q. Since you played such a good round today, what is your mindset going into tomorrow? Is there anything you’ll do different?

BEN CRANE: No, there’s nothing I’ll do different. Actually one thing I’m going to do different. I’m going to show up a little later because my tee time in the afternoon tomorrow. (Laughter.)

But other than that, hopefully I’ll do everything the same.

Q. When you won, you weren’t even aware of that fact. Out there today, were you aware of how things were going?

BEN CRANE: I was not up until — I don’t know, maybe it was 15 or something like that I was turning over to look at my playing partner to say something or whatever, and I saw that my name up top. That was good for me to see it. I wasn’t looking at it on purpose, I just happened to see it, and I was like, it doesn’t mean anything to me, and I just kind of went through a little self-talk there.

Q. Let’s say — so this can cohesively take root in my feeble brain here, you’re in the middle of the fairway, you’ve got 175, stock whatever club to a stock middle pin. Walk us through it. What are you doing? What are you thinking? I take it 5 is the best score, 1 is the worst score?


Q. What’s the that the process, right brain, left brain?

BEN CRANE: Well, the left brain is the load. You have to load up the shot, meaning the wind is off the right, you don’t want to be on a certain side of this pin so you pick a target, you pick a landing area and then you try to figure out, all right, well, if that’s just a good 7-iron or whatever, 10 feet right of the hole, then there it is.

So then now the left brain really should be retired, and then the right brain you should just relax and try to execute through there. So then it should be very quiet through my brain, just going through my alignment checks, my waggle progression — hopefully that’s not too long (laughter) — and then the imprint, which is after, which is just rehearsing as if I had done it perfectly.

Q. And I know you have been working hard on your pace of play. How have you been able to do all that and still work on that goal of —

BEN CRANE: Well, they go hand in hand. The more free I am, I think the more relaxed I am, the less I think, and I think that’s the place that I want to play from. And when I’m doing that well, pace of play is not an issue.

Q. Did your feelings ever get hurt when you heard or read about the reputation you had for your pace of play? Did it ever hurt your feelings at all?

BEN CRANE: Oh, certainly. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my feelings or whatever. But it’s — I needed to be aware of it. I mean, and for a lot of reasons. One is you don’t want to upset your playing partners. It’s not fair to upset your playing partners. You know, everyone should play within the rules. And another huge reason is for the benefit of my own game.

So I mean, there’s a lot of reasons that I’m working on this. Like I said, my desire is to glorify God, and so if I’m relaxed and thinking about that as opposed to kind of thinking about myself and what I want to do, then things are a little more free.

Q. You’re not saying that God told you to play faster, are you?

BEN CRANE: (Smiles.)

Q. How many 5s did you have today?

BEN CRANE: Oh, let’s call it — if you wait just a minute I can give you an exact answer. I’m going to say in the neighborhood of 20.

MARK WILLIAMS: Ben, we appreciate you coming in and you’re always generous with your time and your thoughts. Good job.

Transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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