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The LAB Project

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I suffered from mental illness for more than 15 years in silence before making the decision that I needed to get help. It was a decision that would ultimately save my life and leave me inspired to do something to bring awareness to mental health. More importantly, do something that has the power to inspire others suffering in silence to seek help and avoid becoming just a statistic.

When I was told by a psychiatrist in the psychiatric ward that due to my mental health I’d never golf again, I didn’t know how to respond at the time. It wasn’t until after I’d been released that I began having strong feelings about being told what my having bipolar disorder was and wasn’t going to allow me to do moving forward.

It ultimately drove me to approach the team at The Tour Performance LAB with the idea of The LAB Project; a project that would give everyone an inside look as I work with the Tour Performance LAB team to return to competitive golf. It would also give an inside look to the challenges I face on a daily basis on and off the golf course living with bipolar disorder.

A month into The LAB Project, I’ve already proven that psychiatrist wrong as the work I’ve done with the Tour Performance LAB team has only reinvigorated my passion for the game. The time in the gym with Lindsay Manion has addressed the weaknesses found during my TPI Screen. While the session I spent with Matt Palsenbarg opened my eyes to Vision 54 and how beneficial HeartMath training will be to both my golf game and my personal life. The tools I’ve been given have translated to more effective practice sessions, some of the best ball striking I’ve seen in years and a 360 approach to training that puts me in the best position to perform at the highest level.

The 360 approach to training has afforded me the opportunity to understand the best practices while training that will carry over to the golf course. For example, what’s best to eat and to drink which for me personally has been following the Paleo Diet Solution and using the BioSteel Sports Supplements line. It allows me to continue performing at the highest level without seeing the decrease in performance that inevitably brings my bipolar disorder to the forefront.

My bipolar disorder challenges my drive and my ability to consistently push the limits while I’m in the gym or putting in the time training when I’m away from The Tour Performance LAB. It’s going to be a long journey but it’s all worth it if I can bring awareness to mental health by inspiring others in a similar position to overcome their fears and chase their dreams. If The LAB Project can help to break the stigma attached to mental health, it’ll mean more to me than ultimately returning to playing competitive golf.

Follow along with The LAB Project here

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Matt Stansfield is a former PGA of Canada Class A Professional and has been involved in the golf industry for more than 10 years. Matt's passion and love for the game led to his launching Stansfield Golf and StansfieldGolf.com in August 2012. It is a golf website where Matt is dedicated to providing an all-access pass to all things golf with a focus on being directly accessible to you the reader. Visit Stansfield Golf today www.stansfieldgolf.com

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Matt Stansfield

    Feb 25, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Thanks Blanco.

    I remember June 4th, 2012 for a few reasons:

    1. It’s my birthday
    2. I was in the psychiatric ward at Vancouver General Hospital
    3. The TV in the psych ward had the coverage of Glenn Close attending the world’s largest mental health conference as an advocate; as I recall, she’d been previously involved in an organization focused on mental health

    It was also a year where Catherine Zeta-Jones spoke out about being bipolar after the news became public. I applaud both for their respective work and hope it sets a precedent moving forward for other celebrities/public figures to get involved as well.

    I share in your sentiment that golf allows you to define yourself outside of your disease and as Blanco alluded to, also be accepted for a common love of the game.

    I’ll write more about The LAB Project here on GolfWRX but the regular updates can be found at http://www.stansfieldgolf.com/category/the-lab-project/

    Matt

  2. Blanco

    Feb 25, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Right on Matt– thanks for being outspoken about a topic most know nothing about, yet always seem to have an opinion on. Not quite sure why your psych would say golf is out of the question– but glad that you’ve been able to practice efficiently and tie an important awareness issue into the game of golf. Did you know that 2012 was the first year in history where a major American celebrity became a spokesperson for a mental health organization (Glen Close)? Really shows how taboo and stigmatized “mental illness” is in our society. Golf is the thing that allowed me to define myself outside of my disease. I’ll always be thankful for the game and how it’s helped improved my quality of life. Hope to read more about the program you’re involved in…

  3. AREL

    Feb 24, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I too was overly involved in keeping my diagnoses undercover. I did not see a link to subscribe to your Lab project so I will check in on your writings regularly, if I can remember. Thank you for reaching out with this issue,it is so major, as I have found the local track to be the only place I find fellowship and a commonality with others that allows me to be accepted and to feel comfortable being myself, Bless our game of golf for having, at least for the second time now, been the variable that I consider Life saving.
    Be Well/ Be Safe /N/ Be Happy!!!!! ONE!!!!!

  4. Marty

    Feb 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Right on. Keep at it, man! My wife is a psychologist; I have tremendous empathy for those suffering from mental illness.

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Courses

Barnbougle Dunes: World Class Golf

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We arrived to Launceston Airport in Tasmania just before sunset. Located on the Northeast Coast of Australia’s island state, Tasmania, Barnbougle is almost as far from Sweden as it gets… yet it immediately felt like home when we arrived.

Launceston Airport, Tasmania. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The drive from the airport was just over an hour, taking us through deep forests and rolling hills before we arrived to Barnbougle Golf Resort, which consists of two courses — The Dunes and Lost Farm — a lodge, two restaurants, a sports bar and a spa. Unfortunately, it was pitch black outside and we couldn’t see much of the two courses on our arrival. I would like to add that both Johan and I were extremely excited about visiting this golf mecca. We later enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Barnbougle Lost Farm Restaurant before we called it a day.

The locals at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

The next day, we woke up early and got out to The Dunes Course as very first guests out. Well, to be quite honest, we weren’t actually the first out. There were a few locals — Kangaroos, lots of them — already out on the course. The natural landscape at Barnbougle is fantastic and my cameras almost overheated with the photo opportunities. After two intense hours of recording videos and producing photos both from ground, we headed back to Lost Farm for a wonderful breakfast (and view). After our breakfast, it was time to try our luck.

“Tom’s Little Devil.” Hole No.7 at Barnbougle Dunes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Before describing our experience playing the courses, I would like to mention about Richard Sattler, a potato farmer and owner of Barnbougle. In the early 2000’s, Richard was introduced to U.S. golfing visionary Mike Keiser, who had heard about his amazing stretch of farmland in Tasmania and came down to visit. Mike convinced Richard that Barnbougle (which at that stage was a potato farm and still grows potatoes and raises cattle today) might be perfect for creating a top quality golf course.

After an introduction to well renowned golf architect Tom Doak and the formation of a partnership with former Australian golf pro and golf architect Mike Clayton, the development of the Barnbougle Dunes Course commenced.

The walk between the 3rd and 4th holes. (C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Featuring large bunkers dotted between fun rolling fairways shaped from the coastal dunes, Barnbougle Dunes offers the golfer some tough challenges, in particular on the first nine. This is indeed a course that will entertain all kinds of golfers.

After our round, we looked back at some fantastic highlights such as playing the iconic 7th hole, a short par-3 called ”Tom’s Little Devil,” as well as the beautiful par-4 15th. We were just two big walking smiles sitting there in the restaurant to be honest. Lets also not forget one of the biggest (and deepest) bunkers I’ve seen at the 3rd hole. The name of the bunker is “Jaws.” Good times!

As a small surprise for Johan, I had arranged a meeting after our round with Richard Sattler. Richard, ever the farmer, entered the car parking just in front of the clubhouse in a white pick-up van with a big smile un his face. We talked to Richard for almost 30 minutes. He is an extremely humble man and left such a warm impression on us. Richard explained the Barnbougle story: how it all began and the property today.

To me, this is a high-end golf destination offering something very unique with two world-class courses in Barnbougle Dunes and Barnbougle Lost Farm, both ranked in the top-100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine (U.S.). With the courses located just next to each other, it’s probably one of the best golf resorts you can find down under and a golf resort that I would like bring my hardcore golfing friends to visit. Everything here is exceptional with the resort providing spacious rooms, comfy beds, good food and spectacular views.

(C) Jacob Sjöman. jacob@sjomanart.com

Barnbougle Dunes is a real treat to play for any golfer and will leave you with a sweet golfing memory. Compared to the golf courses available on the more remote King Island, Barnbougle is accessible (given Tasmania is connected by better flight connections) and the hospitality and service at is much more refined.

The golf resort is one of the absolute best I’ve been to. I can also highly recommend playing Barnbougle Dunes; I had great fun and you can play it in many ways. Tomorrow, we will be playing and experiencing the other course at Barnbougle: Barnbougle Lost Farm, a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw course with 20 (!) holes.

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Podcasts

Geoff Shackelford and Louis Oosthuizen join our 19th Hole podcast

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Louis Oosthuizen and Geoff Shackelford join our 19th Hole this week. Oosthuizen talks about his prospects for the 2018 season, and Shackelford discusses Tiger’s setback at the 2018 Genesis Open. Also, host Michael Williams talks about the PGA Tour’s charitable efforts in the wake of tragic events in Parkland, Florida.

Listen to the podcast below on SoundCloud, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Honda Classic

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It’s off to Florida this week for the Honda Classic, as the lead up to the year’s first major continues. PGA National has been the permanent home of this event since 2007, and it has proved to be one of the most demanding courses on Tour since then. The golf course measures just under 7,200 yards, but it is the often blustery conditions combined with the copious amount of water hazards that make this event a challenge. There is also the added factor of “The Bear Trap,” a daunting stretch of holes (Nos. 15-17) that are arguably the most difficult run of holes we will see all year on the PGA Tour.

Ball strikers have excelled here in the past, with Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy all boasting fine records at PGA National. The par-70 golf course contains six long Par 4’s that measure over 450 yards, and players will be hoping that the wind isn’t too strong — when it does blow here, the course can turn into a brute. Last year, Rickie Fowler posted 12-under par to win the event by four strokes over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland. It was the first time in the last five years that the winning score reached double digits.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Rickie Fowler 8/1
  • Rory McIlroy 10/1
  • Justin Thomas 11/1
  • Sergio Garcia 18/1
  • Tyrrell Hatton 28/1
  • Tommy Fleetwood 30/1
  • Gary Woodland 30/1

Previous champions Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy are sure to be popular picks this week, but it’s Justin Thomas (11/1, DK Price $11,300) who I feel offers slightly more value out of the front runners. Thomas has begun the year well, finishing in the top-25 in all four events he has played. The numbers show that his game is getting better all the time. His iron play has steadily improved, picking up more Strokes for Approaching the Green week by week. Last week he gained six strokes approaching the green at the Genesis Open, which was fourth in the field.

At the ball strikers’ paradise, Thomas fans will be glad to know that he ranks fourth in the field for Ball Striking over his last 12 rounds. He is also ranked fourth for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and second in Strokes Gained Total. Comparatively, neither Fowler nor McIlroy rank inside the top-50 for ball striking and the top-40 for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green over the same period.

Thomas’ accuracy on his approaches has been sensational lately. He leads the field in Proximity to the Hole for his past 12 rounds, and on a golf course that contains many long par 4’s it should play into Justin’s hands, as he’s been on fire recently with his long irons. He is third in the field for Proximity on Approaches Between 175-200 yards, and second in the field for Approaches Over 200 yards in his last 12 rounds. Thomas has a mixed record at PGA National, with a T3 finish wedged in between two missed cuts, but I like the way his game has been steadily improving as the season has progressed. It feels like it’s time for the current PGA Champion to notch his first win of the year.

On a golf course where ball striking is so important, Chesson Hadley (55/1, DK Price $7,700) caught my eye immediately. The North Carolina native has been in inspired form so far in this wraparound season with four finishes already in the top-5. The way he is currently striking the ball, it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see him get his fifth this week. Hadley is No. 1 in the field for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green, Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and Ball Striking, while he is No. 2 for Strokes Gained Total over his last 24 rounds.

Having taken last week off, Hadley returns to a golf course where he has finished in the Top-25 twice in his three visits. Yet there is a sense that this year he’ll be aiming even higher than that. Chesson is fifth in this field for Proximity to the Hole from 175-200 yards and fourth overall over the past 24 rounds. With that level of accuracy on such a tricky golf course, Hadley will be confident of putting himself in position to claim win No. 2.

My next pick was a slow sell, but with the number so high I couldn’t leave him out. Adam Scott (55/1, DK Price $7,700) has been struggling for some time now. He has slipped out of the World’s Top-50, changed his putter from the short putter to the long putter and back again over the winter break, and he doesn’t have a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since the FedEx St. Jude Classic last summer. Despite all of this, I don’t feel Scott should be as high as 66/1 with some bookmakers on a golf course where he has excelled. To put it in perspective, Scott is the same price to win this week in a modest field as he is to win The Masters in April.

There are also signs that Scott blew off some of the rust last week in LA. The Australian was 12th in the field for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green, which indicates that things might slowly be coming around for a man who is known for his prodigious ball striking. Scott’s achilles heel is the flat stick, and I wouldn’t expect that to change this week. He’s been very poor on the greens for some time now, which must be incredibly frustrating for a man who gives himself so many looks at birdie. But average putters have performed well at PGA National in the past, where it seems that excellent ball striking is the key for having a good week. Scott won here in 2016, and on his two other visits to PGA National in the past five years he twice finished in the top-15. If he can continue to improve his iron play the way he has been, I feel he could forge his way into contention.

My long shot this week is Sean O’Hair (200/1, DK Price $6,800). The Texan hasn’t done much so far this year, but he is making cuts and he arrives at a course that seems to bring out the best in him. O’Hair has five top-25 finishes in his last seven appearances at PGA National, which includes a T11 at last year’s edition. At 200/1 and with a DK Price of as little as $6,800, there is little harm in taking a chance on him finding that form once more this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Justin Thomas 11/1, DK Price $11,300
  • Chesson Hadley 55/1, DK Price $7,700
  • Adam Scott 55/1, DK Price $7,700
  • Sean O’Hair 200/1, DK Price $6,800
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19th Hole

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