Golf – A Game of the Mind


We all know the old golf cliché: that the whole game takes place between our ears, in the brain – not in our grips or weight shift or follow-through, but in that tiny little tyrant in our skull, who never seems to want to listen to reason.

Sadly, recent research shows there are no shortcuts to perfection, nor can our genes alone determine that we will golf, play the clarinet or dance the tango at the highest level. No, it’s all about putting in the long, boring hours. Ten-thousand hours of dedicated practice is the price of “genius” – which is why Tiger Woods was such a monstrous talent. His entire childhood was sacrificed in the name of the infernal game, with both spectacular and unfortunate consequences. The boy never grew up, but his golf swing sure did!

Yet those of us limited to playing once a week may still find a way to instant golf nirvana: the odd bottle or two of lager, a little white pill that keeps your adrenaline in check, or perhaps the odd puff or two of sacred sativa (burnt in honor of the golf gods, of course). Pick your poison.

Our state of mind is all determined by what neurotransmitters are firing at a given moment, right? So could it be that a blast of bourbon might be better than orange juice before a round? Or put another way: could Jack Daniel’s replace Jack Nicklaus as a guiding force?
Not so fast. As the Greeks said, moderation in all things is always wise. No herb nor miracle pill will turn a total klutz into Ben Hogan, but a bit of practice combined with the occasional drop or dose of “swing oil” might just add up to magic on a given day! Good luck trying to get the balance right, that’s all.

The objective is quieting that annoying little voice in our heads, or to put it in the background where it rightly belongs. Maybe Indian sitar music on a Bluetooth speaker would work just as well. Or if things get really desperate, one could open an app that connects to a sports psychologist for real-time advice.

Or just give up and try an easier sport. Croquet, anyone?