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Understanding The Dominance Of Nelly Korda

Updated: Apr 23

Nelly Korda's fifth win a row

Something is happening in the golf world right now that hasn’t been seen in quite some time - dominance. In both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour, a player has emerged above the rest, cementing their place as the best player of their respective tours, to the point where it feels like everyone else is competing for second place. 

As you probably know, those players are Scottie Scheffler and Nelly Korda. As a performance coach, when I see athletes perform at this level, I want to study them and make sense of why they are where they are. What’s the formula behind their dominance? What can I extract from their performances that I can then use to help other golfers tap into that same energy?

First, I want to remove any technical reasons from the conversation. No doubt, both of them are strong, technical players, but so is just about every other player on each of those tours. The reason for their dominance has less to do with what they can do with their bodies and much more to do with the control they have of their minds. 

Because my team and I are currently working with an LPGA Tour player, I have a vested interest in understanding what makes Nelly Korda tick and how she’s achieved this 5-tournament winning streak, something that hasn’t been done since Annika Sörenstam in 2005. That’s almost 20 years ago! That’s how hard it is to do what she’s doing right now. So let’s break it down. 

Annika Sörenstam wins 5 in a row
Annika Sörenstam 5 in a row. Source:

Nature and Nurture

When I was studying biology and especially genetics and behavior, we talked about nature vs nurture and the role each one plays in determining behaviors, and in this case, performance. 

Let’s start with nature. Nelly Korda is the daughter of two elite athletes. Both her mother and father were professional tennis players, which clearly increased her chances of winning the genetic lottery, which I believe she has. She’s tall, strong, fluid, and in control of her movements. But can that same genetic lottery provide the mental tools needed to succeed? I think so. To a certain extent. In the same way that some people, including myself, can have a predisposition toward stress and anxiety, some people are born with an innate calmness and emotional control. This may be the case with Ms Korda. Or maybe not? Maybe it’s also nurture. 

When a child is raised in an environment where winning and athletic accomplishments are part of their lives on a regular basis, they often learn from those examples and begin to adopt many of the traits that allow for that level of performance. Not only were her parents great athletes, but her older sister helped pave the way for her in golf, and her brother is currently competing on the ATP tour, following in his parents’ footsteps. 

Clearly, the Korda household produced some pretty great athletes. But what about those of us who don’t have pro athletes as parents? What else can we learn from Nelly Korda to help us build a stronger mental game and perform to the best of our abilities? 

The Korda Family
The Korda Family (source: - Getty images)

Calm intensity

The first thing that stands out for me when I watch her play is one of my favorite concepts of performance coaching which is Calm Intensity. The way she speaks, the way she walks, even the way she swings, all say calm energy. But being calm on the golf course won’t always get you through those challenging moments, those moments when you need to fight. That’s where the intensity comes in. As calm as she may seem on the outside, there is no doubt a fire inside her that she has access to in those challenging moments. She can tap into that intensity. 

The power of a team

Every time she’s been asked about her success on her recent winning streak, she immediately mentions the team behind her - her caddy, her coach, her family. Golf is an individual sport, but we can all use guidance to improve - physically, technically, and mentally. 

Whether you’re a pro golfer looking to reach the next level, or an amateur golfer looking to improve, finding the right coaches, or even great playing partners that can help you elevate your game, can have a significant impact on your success. You may not have the constant access to your team that a player like Nelly does, but having a coach or partners in your corner can make a big difference. 

Success creates confidence

As someone who studies Flow and peak performance, I love seeing players get in the zone and see what they’re capable of when they get there. For some players, it may last a few holes, an entire round, multiple rounds, and every once in a while, a player, like Nelly, achieves enough success that it creates an aura of confidence that they can tap into when they need it. 

Something else about that aura is how it affects those around them. When players look at the leaderboard and see that Nelly is at the top or close to it, I guarantee that it changes the way they play. We saw this for years when Tiger was at the top of the golf world. They may get nervous or take greater risks, especially if they’ve rarely been in that situation before. 

So how do you compete against that level of confidence? By learning how to create your own aura of calm intensity. As a performance coach, I want the people I work with to rise to their potential, and you can do that by learning the tools you need to take on the challenges of golf. You can work in the gym to feel stronger and more confident physically. You can work on the technical aspects of your game to build even more confidence. Finally, you can introduce mental training tools, like breath training, visualization, positive affirmations, a powerful pre-shot routine, all of these can be combined to tap into your ultimate potential.

Patrick Sebastien

Performance Coach


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