October 2008


Golf is more of a religious experience than you think...

The main theme of this month’s issue is "golf & health" two areas which mean a lot to me. When I think of "health" per se, I do not automatically think physical well-being, but also mental and spiritual health as well.

They say that, "there are two things which you don’t have to do it well to enjoy yourself – golf and sex."

It seems as we get older, the adage seems to apply more and more because, as we age, we learn that most problems are not as bad as they seem, Viagra and graphite shafts have been a boon to senior citizens too, so we generally have less troubles rattling around in our heads to distract us.

Ok, granted, an upcoming prostate exam by a doctor whose hands are big enough to palm a watermelon can be very worrisome.

I have long postulated that golf is a very accurate barometer of a nation’s economy, but it also opens a window into a person’s soul. You cannot hide from yourself and 18 holes of golf will bring most of your character flaws to the surface sooner or later.

When I teach golf, I must take into account the student’s frame of mind, his mood as well as his character when looking for the cause of his problems and when I am helping a beginner to build a swing, I must incorporate elements of his temperament into it as well. Someone who is very hyper could never swing like Fred Couples or Ernie Els, but by the same token, those two couldn’t swing like Tiger Woods either.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard in 45 years of golf is that people have trouble playing the same way twice. Even though they feel they are swinging the same as the day before, they just cannot score as well and there is a very simple reason for this…

Your mood is different, not your swing.

As I get older and perhaps wiser (or senile, it can go either way), I realise that golf is more of a "spiritual game" than a physical one because, while golf is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical, it is 100% spiritual.

Yes, I know, you’re saying "Uncle Robert’s little choo-choo train has gone completely off the tracks" but let me explain my rationale…

You can have the best swing in the world, set in cement. This swing repeats exactly the same way time and time again. Your putting stroke is mechanical genius. Simplicity to the max…but there is one thing that will keep you from playing your best every time and that is yourself.

If you’re not in the right frame of mind to play, you don’t stand a chance out there.

One mental hiccup and you can put yourself into very deep trouble. If you are not thinking clearly, you can very easily compound the problem with a poor decision and an even more poorly executed recovery shot.

Such is the nature of golf…let your guard down for a second and you’re looking a double bogey, or worse, square in the face.

If you come to the golf course troubled by the way things are going in the office, your son comes home with a chrome bone through his nose, family problems flaring up, your wife calls you Tuan and your name is Ngoc…

You are NOT going to have a good day out there.

Professionals have long expounded on the necessity of "release" and, for the most part, the majority of people believe that it solely involves letting the club head swing through naturally.

I happen to believe that "release" begins the moment you sit in front of your locker and put on your golf shoes. At that moment, you must find a way to put all the troubles of the day into that locker and leave them there until your round is over, otherwise, you will have a troubled spirit and a lousy day.

One of my friends who was a two-handicap, but then fell into a period when he couldn’t break 80 even if there was a gun to his head, so after watching for a bit, I had a strong idea what his problem was and casually asked him if everything was going ok at home and in business. As it turned out, he was having major problems in both areas and with his golf going bad, he was even more depressed.

I told him to forget golf scores for a while and not to change his swing because the problem wasn’t there. His game would return when he had straightened out the more important areas of his life.

I am happy to say everything worked out for him a few months later and his golf game returned. In fact, he beat my brains out a few weeks ago.

Golf is more than a game… it’s a window into your soul as well.

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