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Golf and The Senses (Part 1)


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What's the relationship between golf and the senses? If you're curious and played golf you must have wondered about the relation between the mental and the physical aspects of the game. How do senses affect your golf?

This is one of the fundamental problems of golf and I had early reason to think about it, for as already related — as soon as I had become a golf professional the very fact that I had become a Pro seemed to have made it impossible for me to hit a decent shot from the first tee at Meyrick Park. Why? If we could find the answer to that we should understand golf "nerves" and maybe see how to avoid them.

When we consider the make-up of a good games player we usually start with a catalogue of physical qualities, such as a good eye, steely wrists, good reach, etc.

To these we may add — if we are advanced enough to be conscious of psychology — two or three purely mental qualities, such as "good nerves" and intelligence.

For years and years I tried to strike a fair balance between the qualities in the two groups, and decided at various times that golf was 50 per cent physical and 50 per cent mental, then 40 per cent/60 per cent and 80 per cent/20 per cent, and all sorts of other proportions.

But I admit that however I considered the matter I never felt convinced that I had found a correct answer. I already knew that we played reflex golf, and that a reflex was muscular memory, and this should have told me that any clear-cut division between mental and physical was impossible. I now know why!

Of course this division of golf into separate physical and mental departments was not an idea of my own. It was the way we all thought about the game.

I remember spending one of the most stimulating evenings of my life listening to—and occasionally chipping in on — a debate on the light-ball, between some Americans and members of the Committee of the R. & A. Walter Hagen was there and members of the Ryder Cup team.

For myself, though I enjoyed the argument immensely, I felt even at that time that it was inconclusive; something was lacking again.

I think I had got so far as to realize that the arguments advanced lacked conclusiveness because they were either too purely mental or too purely physical.

Tomorrow I'll continue with more on the relationship between golf and the senses.

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