David Cook (Educ ’82, Grad ’84) has become a best-selling author and a movie producer, but he is first and foremost a sports psychologist. Soon after he started working with the San Antonio Spurs in 1996, they won two world championships. He has also worked with golfers on the PGA tour for 25 years. Cook knows how to use the mind to maximize performance, and he wrote a novel to share some of his lessons with a wider audience. “I took seven important principles from sports psychology and illustrated them,” says Cook. “The plot centers on the big questions: What happens when a person gets to the end of his rope? How do we make our lives significant?”
Cook’s book, Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia, follows a talented golfer set on making the pro tour. After a public disaster, he runs away from his problems. He gets stranded in Utopia, Texas, where he meets a rancher, who forces him to reconsider his approach not only to golf but also to life.
After the success of the book, Cook helped produce a movie version of the story, for which he raised $17 million. “While I was writing the script, it was a real struggle to fit everything in. An hour and a half is a short time,” says Cook. “The main teaching point that I included in the movie was that in a performance setting, you need to create a masterpiece in the mind’s eye, before you take a shot or make a move in life.”
Seven Days in Utopia, starring Robert Duvall and Lucas Black, was released in September. Cook himself appears in two scenes. “I’m on the dance floor with my daughter for two seconds,” he says, “and I play a minister in another scene, but if you blink you’ll miss me.”