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Original Issue

The Zen Zone

I'm the coach who'll needle you on the course. Yes, you are
looking at a golf guru-acupuncturist.

Acupuncture isn't hocus-pocus, it's science. That's what I
learned 20 years ago in Hong Kong. I was a touring tennis pro
from Nebraska with a bum shoulder, but after a Chinese sports
medicine specialist treated me with acupuncture, the pain
disappeared. I went on to earn a master's degree in kinesiology
at UCLA and a doctorate at the Academy of Traditional Chinese
Medicine in Beijing. Since then I have incorporated acupuncture
into the golf instruction I've given hundreds of clients,
including actors Peter Gallagher, Randy Quaid and Kurt Russell.
Like most Americans, they were skeptical at first but changed
their minds when they saw the results.

Golf is all about calm. I like to say that you don't play golf
to relax, you relax to play golf. The zone we hear PGA Tour
players talk about is a metabolic state of calm, a Zen-like
concentration. Most golfers don't know how to get there. On the
range they can hit every shot, but once the round starts, they
get excited, frustrated, stressed--anything but calm. That's
where acupuncture comes in. I'll put needles in my clients'
ears, or in the skin on top of their heads, before or during a
round. Acupuncture works by triggering the release of
endorphins, chemicals that contribute to the calm focus that I
call playing attention. After 20 minutes I'll take the needles
out, but the calm remains.

Unusual? Absolutely. But look around at any Tour event--you'll
see the pros trying new swings and new equipment, looking for
the magic. In fact, the magic is here. It's a fusion of Eastern
and Western approaches to golf, and I'm one of its point men.

Gary Haykin teaches golf in and around Los Angeles.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [Gary Haykin holding model of ear with accupuncture needles in numbered holes]