Eliminate Psychological Errors
The 28th Secret
We have emphasized the need for practicing to eliminate mechanical weaknesses. This also applies to
psychological weaknesses. The method of handling the matter is the same as that used in removing errors of
The first step is to keep a record of those shots which are missed for no apparent mechanical reason—shots with
which we normally have no difficulty. These shots are sometimes referred to as "jinx" shots. There are also "jinx"
holes. For top-notch golfers, there are even "jinx" tournaments.
A simple method of destroying "jinx" shots is to practice them at the very place they are missed, if this is
possible. If it is not possible, a duplicate situation can be arranged on the practice fairway. If even this cannot
be done, the shot can be played in imagination. Practice will reveal that it is not the shot which is at fault, but
one's own attitude. If the attitude is changed, the trouble generally disappears.
Here is a simple example. For a time, on our number 7, I duck-hooked my drives into a bank about 130 yards in front
of the tee. This happens to be the only hole on the course in which a higher tee shot than usual is required.
However, a normally good drive will not get into trouble. I knew that psychological factors were producing the
missed shot. It happened that my tee shot on number 11 was almost always satisfactory. So I said to myself, "I will
play this just like number 11." I had no further difficulty. I could have solved this same problem on the practice
tee by imagining that I was playing number 7, because peculiarly enough, a jinx will give you trouble even in
practice if the attitude to the shot is the same.
Although I solved the problem satisfactorily, I do not consider it a good long-range solution. It would have been
better to have learned what my attitude was and what mechanical errors resulted. Had I subconsciously modified my
stance? Was I striving for additional distance and allowing the right hand to overpower the left? Was I trying to
steer the ball to the left because the fairway over the hill sloped to the right? Was it part golfing attitude and
part fear? Is the tee a little slick?
"Jinx" holes often result from "jinx" shots. A "jinx" shot on a given hole will result in higher scores on the
hole. If this occurs enough times, our anxiety spreads to include the hole, or even the course. Sometimes chance
produces high scores on a given hole. Instead of being philosophical and realizing that a coin can come up tails
three times in a row and that a golf hole can be "messed up" by chance in the same way, we become anxious. This
anxiety perpetuates the "jinx" hole by inducing experimentation.
A common psychological weakness is to succumb under pressure. If this occurs often, the best answer is to play
under pressure so often that it becomes a natural part of your playing condition. This is the "tournament
toughness" of which the professionals speak.
No matter what the psychological weakness, it is just as subject to correction as a mechanical weakness. The answer
is always remedial practice.