Applying the Pressure
The 43rd Secret
How to Apply the Pressure ?
There is only one way of applying pressure to your opponent in head-on play—through your golfing ability. Any
form of direct or indirect needling should be restricted to the golfing group in which the relationship is so close
that the usual amenities are relaxed.
The proper attitude should be that the game is more im¬portant than the player, and that the players are more
important than the outcome of one's personal matches. The written rules should be upheld; beyond that, golf is a
game for gentlemen and requires an extreme consideration for others.
Some years ago in the National Open, Bobby Jones, while addressing his shot, drew away from the ball. He then
re-addressed and struck it. When the hole was completed, he had apparently parred it. He called a stroke upon
himself, however, because as he had set his club for the second shot, the ball had partially turned. The stroke
permitted Willie McFarlane to tie. In the playoff, Jones was defeated. As long as golf is played, this example of
sportsmanship will not be forgotten.This calls to mind, by contrast, what many consider to be the grand slam of
golf stories. Two golfers came to the 18th tee all even. John hit his ball straight down the middle. Harry sliced
into deep rough. Both caddies and players looked for the ball for almost five minutes, after which time Harry said,
"Well, you all go on. If I don't find it in a minute, you can have the hole."
John and his caddy had barely got to their ball when Harry yelled, "I've got it." He played a great shot that
landed on the green. John turned to his caddy, "You know, that son of a bitch is going to beat me yet, and I've got
his ball in my pocket!"
However, within the rules and spirit of the game there is often opportunity to apply a psychological pressure which
may be the deciding factor in a match or tournament. Some opportunities occur now and then, some are always at
hand. Here are ways in which this can be done:
1. Become an expert on putts of five feet and under. If your
opponent is uncertain on such shots, his game will often collapse. This, of course, is a limited objective. Even
more pressure can be exerted by a general excellence in the short game.
2. Defeat a golfer in his own golfing department if possible. A
long hitter becomes disconcerted if he is out-driven. A good putter gets wobbly if someone else is matching his
skill in a department where he expects to have an advantage.
3. Defeat a golfer in his own psychological department. Some
years ago in a club championship match play tournament, I was warned by members to be on guard against my next
opponent. He was a very strict rule-caller, and used the rules as an obnoxious psychological weapon. I brushed up
on the rules in advance and was aided by a nice stroke of fortune. On the first hole, when removing his ball from
casual water, he replaced it in a way that improved his position. We had a polite and lengthy discussion about this
immediately, finally deciding to leave the decision to the professional when we came in. However, this did not
prove to be necessary, since his game promptly broke down. Peculiarly enough, he was quite friendly after this and
assisted me in a minor financial venture.
In another match in the semi-finals of an invitation tournament in Texas, I was defeated by an opponent who, after
hitting a ball out of bounds, used the "duplicate ball" trick. He had a hole in his right pocket through which he
would drop a ball to the ground. It is almost impossible to see *he trick in operation. "Here it is," he said, and
that was the match.
I had occasion to play him again in another tournament. This time I told my opponent, "Mr. G—, you know they've got
a lot of local rules here and we don't know them all. Suppose we play improving the lies everywhere—no out of
bounds, and no other penalties." There was an odd expression on his face but he agreed. It was a fair match this
time but, unfortunately for a good story, he beat me again.
4. Present him with the "fait accompli." That is, shove a good shot
in his face and let him do better. It was believed that Bobby Jones would sometimes hit a drive deliberately
shorter than his opponent in match play in order to hit first. When he played his next shot on the green or close
to the hole, the pressure of the "fait accompli" was on his opponent. De¬liberately hitting a shorter drive than
one's opponent could de¬velop into a comic affair, however, if both golfers knew the maneuver. We might even see
the first drive hit with a wedge!
Gene Sarazen has been suspected of deliberately putting his second shot in the trap to disconcert his opponent arid
excite the galleries with his deadly explosion to the flag.
Paul Runyan demoralized Sam Snead in the finals of a P.G.A. tournament by hitting first to the green—often with a
wood when Snead was using short irons—then finishing him off, 8 and 7, by sinking the putts. Of course, Runyan did
not create this particular opportunity, but it illustrates the general principle.
It may well be that my opponents have, on occasion, disconcerted themselves. In a poker game in which I was
fortunate, one player said later to the rest, "I should have known better. He was reading my mind."
On another occasion, my opponent had been kidded by his friend when he learned that he was pitted against a
psychologist. On the first tee, he whispered, "Don't let him talk you out of it." I hit first with a fair tee shot.
He hit rather poorly. I, of course, said nothing. My opponent's friend leaned over and said to him, "Tricky
bastard, ain't he!"
5. Play the "two more." The term "two more" is an English expression
for the tactic known in this country as "making it hard for him." It is the "fait accompli" presented to an
opponent after you have had to lose a stroke. Here is an example:
You are playing a par-four hole. You dub the tee shot. The next shot is critical. You play for a safe bogey five.
Your op¬ponent's second shot must hit the green to win. The pressure is on him to capitalize on his chance. The
hole is "won" but it is not yet won. If he doesn't get on, he will not win the "won hole." Even if he does get on,
you may have hit a good third shot and put it close. If both of you are on with little difference in your shots,
you can continue the "two more." If you make your long putt, you have probably saved the hole. If you put it close,
he has to avoid three-putting. If he puts his ball to within three feet of the hole and you do not do quite as
well, you can still "make it hard for him." If you drop your four-footer, his three-footer will become
There are many opportunities in match play to capitalize upon apparent disaster. Although the statistical advantage
is against you, the psychological advantage will be on your side if you put continuous pressure upon your opponent
to win a hole he has theoretically won or to win a match that seems to be just about closed.
The principle of the "two more" in match games is akin to that of "keep the ball in play" in medal golf. Those who
pursuing the leader are in a psychologically advantageous position. By simply keeping their ball in play,
continuous pressure is exerted. The leader must do the very difficult thing of winning what has already been "won."
This, in effect, is an additional psychological variable, and is worth several strokes to those who are pushing