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Beware of Golfing Masochism

The 32nd Secret

A person who derives a perverse pleasure from self-in jury is called a masochist. Some players tend to be golfing masochists. Some break golf clubs. Others will deliberately cost themselves additional strokes.
A very fine golfer hit his second shot into water in front of the green on a par 5. Instead of moving up to the water's edge and lobbing the next shot to the hole, he perversely hit several more balls into the water from a range of about 250 yards. By a narrow margin he failed to place among the leaders, and this cost him an invitation to appear in the Masters the following year.
Another form of self-destructiveness sometimes operates among those who seem to lose their touch if they find themselves in the lead. Their attitude may change in a number of different ways but it all winds up with the same result—defeat. An overĀ¬confident person may take foolish chances or become careless. Another may feel free to experiment. A shy person may wonder, "What am I doing here?" I know a very nice professional who does this. He tries to disappear.
Strange as it seems, just as there are golfers who are completely determined to win, there are others who subconsciously prefer to lose. These are sometimes the ones who appear to be blowing up. Others appear to be perennially "unlucky" because of a perverted desire for self-punishment. Some just quit, and some treasure the reputation of being "good losers."
To play any shot in such a way that all one's ability is not used is self-destructive. Be on guard against such golfing masochism. It is not enough, however, to be forewarned against possible golfing masochism. We need to know what to do about it. As Socrates pointed out 2,000 years ago, no one knowingly injures himself. On the surface, he may appear to be doing so, but inside he thinks that everything he does is really to his best interest. I have found this to be quite true of those with suicidal impulses; these impulses disappear when the patient is made to realize that it is not to his best interest to kill himself. The loser who persistently fails to measure up to his demonstrated abilities sometimes is found to believe that it is better for him to lose than to win. If the problem is important enough to the individual, it would pay him to consult a good psychologist. This is the type of problem which clears up almost immediately when the thinking underlying it is exposed.