The 6th Secret

The characteristic approach to the game by those who succeed involves a fixity of purpose which comes from the emotional drive. The drive comes from what psychologists call “goal tensions,” and this goal tension comes from the decision of the player to disregard the possible pleasures of the moment for the pleasures of final important achievement. However, the strength of this decision is apt to fluctuate from time to time and, to avoid its weakening, there are ways by which our drive can be further stimulated by conscious effort. Here are some of those methods:

1. Watch expert golfers in action. You will tend to identify with them, as you do with the hero in a movie, and as you do so, emotions of various kinds will be aroused which will stimulate your ambitions. After any tournament, there is always a great flurry of golfing activity. The golf matches now being portrayed on television will result in even greater golfing interest.

2.Play in golf tournaments. A big emotional incentive comes out of the competition. People learn much faster if their efforts are competitively successful. They experience an exhilarating lift to which they can easily become addicted. On the other hand, if they lose, their pride is stung and they may be stimulated to redeem themselves through a better showing.

3. Take lessons from someone you admire. Many a person has developed a lifelong desire to improve his game by the accident of having been around a person he liked who was a good player. It is not necessary to wait for such an accident to occur. Seek out the professional that you most admire and pay him whatever it costs for lessons. The ideal pro would be one who could both teach and play and also had personal qualities that would serve as a long-range source of stimulation. An example of such a relationship is that between Ken Venturi and Byron Nelson. It may well explain why Venturi is an obsessive practicer.

4. Consider golf as a stepping-stone to material success. Golf has developed into big business and, in this business, there are many opportunities. Good playing can lead to money-making on a much larger scale than many other fields. This accounts for the fact that college players with promise are turning down other careers to take their chances on the circuit. Many golfers do exceedingly well in selling clubs and other accessories. Some use connections developed on the golf course as an entree to
profitable business deals. A good or even creditable game is helpful in both business and social situations. If one becomes a professional even in a comparatively small way, he will find that the returns are good. In some cases, the returns approach the fabulous.

5. Consider golf as an aid to good health. Many physicians consider golf the ideal exercise as a promoter of good emotional and physical health. Without excessive strain, it enables one to exercise every muscle in the body. In addition, it promotes mental health by taking the mind off problems that produce emotional stress.

6. Be a “poor loser.” It is not good psychology to cultivate an attitude of being satisfied with failure. Such an attitude is self-destructive since it destroys the emotional drive that is required for sustained effort. Tommy Bolt was so heavily criticized for his angry reactions to poor shots and poor rounds that he set about to completely suppress his feelings. He said later that he quit winning the minute he started becoming a “good loser.”

I have known several amateurs whose games have deteriorated under similar circumstances.

This does not mean that one must be obnoxious in order to perform at his best. As is mentioned elsewhere in this book, our emotions can be directed into productive channels which will drive us to improve. It has been reported that Bobby Jones in his prime had unpleasant physical reactions during the stress of competition. In the best sense, this great sportsman was a “poor loser.”