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How to Make Faith Work for You

The 19th Secret

Success in anything is hardly possible without faith, and this is true of success in golf. One way to develop golfing faith is to study experts.
Such watching builds up confidence that difficult shots can be made and that normal shots should be made. This causes many golfers to improve spontaneously, simply from the psychological lift that comes from a change in his attitude towards what can be done. Sometimes the improvement is permanent.
For instance, in track and field events, as soon as a given record is surpassed, there are almost immediate further breakings of what was the old record.
It was very difficult to jump over 6 feet, to run a mile in less than four minutes, and to pole-vault over 15 feet. But as soon as it was first done, there was a rash of athletes surpassing the old marks.
An appropriate story is told about Ralph Guldahl's small nephew. He was in a bicycle shop with his parents when he spotted a tricycle similar to his own at home. He rode it around the store several times, then promptly fell off when his brother yelled out to him, "It's only got two wheels!" It was really a bicycle, and he did not learn to ride a bicycle until some years later.
An obvious cause of low modern scores is the improvement in equipment, but an equally important cause has been the persisting psychological effect of the achievements of great golfers. Golf became a much easier game the moment Walter Travis displayed his genius with a putter; when Vardon showed what accuracy was possible with the woods; when Hagen revealed the possibilities of recovery shots; when Jones consistently began dipping into the sixties; when Hogan demonstrated what could be done with dedicated practice; and when Sarazen demonstrated at St. Andrews what could be done by a senior golfer.
We hear much about the need for being realistic and, in truth, it is an important principle in solving problems. But golf, like life, is difficult to handle if we rely too much upon hard and fast rules. We seem to drift from reality when we speak of an intangible like faith. Yet golf is a projection of life, and there are times in life when it is better to be realistically unrealistic. It is best for the individual golfer to believe that there is no limit to what he can do, for it is by such beliefs that he can continuously surpass himself.
It is also best for the game of golf if all of us have faith that we can excel, though obviously everyone cannot be tops in a competitive game. The stimulus of this faith acting upon millions of golfers will help raise the level of present play. In the raising of this level, we shall experience the pleasure that comes when we share in the excitement of witnessing original methods break through physical and psychological barriers to new records.
If a golfer cannot believe that he can be best, he must believe that he can be better. Even such a limited faith can lead him step by step to a brand of golf he might never have believed possible.