One of our club members—and one of our finest golfers, incidentally—happens to be a prominent neurosurgeon interested in the psychosomatic side of golf. I played a round with him recently, and as we walked down the fifth fairway he noticed the tenseness of my jaw.
"Why don't you whistle a slow tune?" he suggested. Whether it was completely psychological or not, I felt a change immediately. I played 5-under golf the final 13 holes and turned a bad round into one I really enjoyed playing. So instead of giving advice, which I'm paid to do, I found taking it very helpful on this occasion.
Muscular tension can obstruct proper concentration or ruin the actual physical performance of a stroke. By occupying yourself with some form of relaxation that is natural to you—whistling is natural for me, talking is natural for Billy Joe Patton, and so on—you won't entirely eliminate the tension that is an inescapable part of golf. You will, though, be able to control that tension and prevent its interfering with your muscular action. As the drawing below illustrates, keeping cheerful and relaxed, whether you whistle or maintain your composure by some other action, is a lot more conducive to playing good golf than fretting over technical problems, your score, or the ignominy of an off-day.
From JACKSON BRADLEY, River Oaks Country Club, Houston
NEXT WEEK: GENE LITTLER ON WAITING FOR THE CLUB HEAD IN PUTTING