How to Avoid Conditions that Kill Interest In Golf
The 7th Secret
When I was a freshman at college, our class was given a talk on recreation. The speaker gave us advice which has
proved itself so sound in my case that I would advise young men to heed it. He urged us to select hobbies that we
could engage in for the balance of our lives. I chose bowling, chess and golf. They have worked out very well for
me as a permanent solution to the problem of recreation. One of the additional advantages of the selection was that
I did not disperse my learning over many games.
There are a number of conditions which can weaken our interests. Here are precautions you should take:
1. Avoid competing games. There is still a great
deal of truth in the old adage: "Jack-of-all-trades, master of none." You can obtain a great deal more satisfaction
out of a fair degree of excellence in one sport than from poor skill in a number of them. Constant poor showings
will produce unnecessary feelings of inferiority.
2. Avoid false discouragement. The best way of
doing this is to keep records of all practice and play, so that you know precisely what your present level of skill
is. Most golfers who become discouraged do so unnecessarily. A golfer who keeps records knows that practice
inevitably brings about improvement—even with poor methods. As Harvey Penick once said, "You can learn
to hit the ball with any method."
Of course, our aim is to improve as fast as we can through sound methods of practice, but the point I wish to
emphasize here is that golfers can injure their chances of improvement by becoming defeatists.
On this point, the psychologist William James,presents an argument that is as appropriate to golf as it is to
"Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever the line of it may be. If
he keeps faithfully busy each hour of the working day, he may safely leave the final result to itself. He can, with
perfect certainty, count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent ones of his
generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. Silently, between all the details of his business, the
power of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself up within him as a possession that will never
pass away. Young people should know this truth in advance. The ignorance of it has probably engendered more
discouragement and faint¬heartedness in youths embarking on arduous careers than all other causes put
False discouragement (discouragement not based on facts) can also grow out of placing oneself in a position that
invites defeat. Repeated defeats depress the ego. Unless a person can balance these with a series of repeated
successes, he will become unnecessarily discouraged.
Here are a few practical ways to avoid false discouragement:
Do not play habitually with better golfers
unless the handicaps are such that you win as often as you lose.
Do not limit yourself to players who always
Do not increase your betting when you will
have to come from behind to win.
Do not bet against poorer golfers if they
demand handicaps which will insure their winning.
Do not attempt shots which you do not have in
Do not turn in a better qualifying score than
you actually shoot. It is better psychologically to win in a lower flight than to lose in a higher
Do not concede any putts to yourself or your
opponent that can be missed. Discouragement arises from the fact that in a tournament in which all putts must be
holed out, you may think you are playing badly, when in reality you are playing your regular
Do not "pull against" your opponent. A series
of good or lucky shots on his part will make a defeatist of you. It is healthier to expect him to play well. If he
misses or has tough luck, it will be so much gravy.
Do not play with persons who increase your
3. Avoid anxiety and worry in your personal
life. The worries that arise from the process of everyday living affect golf. In virtually all
cases, something can be done about them. Since such worries generally result in illness and financial loss, it is
cheaper in the long run to seek help from a competent psychologist or psychiatrist. Most people make the mistake of
taking unhappiness for granted.
4. Avoid false pride. Many people will not seek
emotional help from a psychologist or psychiatrist because they consider it a sign of weakness. But in this area,
as in golf, it is a much greater weakness to have so much false pride that one cannot take advantage of the
superior skills of others. Years ago many golfers had such false pride about instruction. Even today, some writers
occasionally encourage such an attitude indirectly by emphasizing that a given player "has never had a
lesson." I do not doubt that there are such players, but their judgment is questionable. Most good
golfers are anxious to help those with less skill. The golfer with the sort of false pride that prevents him from
seeking help can waste years discovering what someone else can give him in a few minutes.