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How to Avoid Habits that Kill Golf Interest

The 11th Secret

Unhappiness very often creeps up on us in insidious ways. Illness, fatigue, anxiety, and boredom can gradually erode our interest in life. Such things can also undermine a healthy interest in golf. In order to guard against these dangers, here are some sound precautions:

1. Avoid playing or practicing when you do not feel well. Undue physical fatigue leads to poor golfing habits in addition to conditioning you against practice. However, most fatigue is emotional in origin, and this type can be relieved by forced exercise and recreation.

2. Avoid habits that are generally considered to lead to poor health levels. If you can, avoid alcohol. If you cannot, restrict the drinking. Many talented golfers have been ruined as their social drinking degenerated into alcoholism. This is the saddest golf "secret" of them all.

3. Always stop practicing while you are still interested. If you practice until your interest fails, you will tend not to want to return.

4. Practice first the shots that require the least effort. Begin with the putter and work backwards to the woods. This insures that the great stroke-saving shots will get their due of attention. If you practice wood shots first you are apt to tire, and will have no interest for further short game practice.

5. Do not complicate your swing. Of two ways of hitting the ball that seem equally effective, it is better to adopt the swing that involves the fewest complications. In addition to the inherent value of simplifying the stroke, there is the advantage of being able to hit more shots with the same total amount of effort. There is also a natural tendency for the easier swing to be learned more quickly. It has been found that of two or more acts which precede a rewarding state of affairs, that act which involves the least expenditure of effort receives the greatest amount of net reinforcement.

6. Do not play or practice under conditions that create anxiety or dislike. There are so many such situations that it is not possible to list them all. Some that come to mind are: playing in uncomfortable weather, playing with uncongenial persons, playing with golfers who are either much better or muchworse than you are, playing when there are more important things to be attended to, and betting more than you can afford to lose.

7. Do not practice when you feel you are getting nowhere by practicing. If you are in a golfing blind alley and you know from your records that considerable practice is not resulting in any considerable improvement, your interest will deteriorate very quickly. Under these circumstances, you must take lessons immediately before you develop an interest-killing frustration.

Generally, a condition of this kind is brought about by a misunderstanding of some golf principle. If, for instance, you have read that it is advisable to lead with the left wrist as Demaret does and you have misinterpreted the execution, you may be using a method ineffective for you merely because a great golfer has advocated it. This grows out of what is known as the "halo effect." It simply means we are apt to be overawed by authority. Sometimes this places us in blind alleys. It is at this point that we require some other authority to put us straight.