Other than your swing, you will probably be the most important part of your golf game, period. Over the long term, you will make or break your game.
You need to be fit enough to play every day and every week, and to be physically strong enough to withstand the punishment that comes with it. You need to be able to keep up with the pace of play on a course where it is fast enough that you have to hit shots quickly.
Unless you can do those things and still have time left over for your social life, don’t bet on the golf course.
I have learned that the real golf game is not the round you play, it’s your attitude. If you are a good golfer, and if you don’t mind being in shape, the only way to improve is by training. And even then, it’s probably not enough — you’ve got to keep working on your swing.
If you’re out of shape, or have a bad back or something else that makes it hard for you to keep training all year round, ask yourself: What do I have to do today to make it easier? How can I take a little weight off my shoulders? How can I do a little better job of warming up? What can I do with my feet? The answers to all these questions will lead you to a new thing that’s fun and will make your next golf game better.
My advice to golfers is to never be tempted by the idea of playing a round in the afternoon, let alone a round in the evening. That way lies disaster. If you play at night, your eyes will be tired and your mind won’t be sharp. I can’t imagine why golfers would want to do that.
That’s why I have always played right after lunch and right before dinner. And also why I always play before sunset and before sunrise.
The golf course is a major feature of the landscape and can have a profound impact on the local environment. It can be used for biodiversity restoration and for recreation, but it can also be used to enhance farm production or for industrial development. This chapter offers advice on how golf courses can be designed both to enhance their recreational value and to allow them to be used in other ways.
It is important that golf courses play a significant part in the lives of their members, whether they are working or retired, and that they should provide social opportunities and contribute to the quality of life locally. There are many situations where golf courses are very successful, but there are many more where they do not live up to this potential.
In most parts of the country, however, golf is not very popular with young people. It tends to appeal mostly to older men who want social contact with other men (and women) and who want a good living standard without having much responsibility. These individuals may like golf as a hobby but would not prefer it even if it was made compulsory for all members of the population by law.
Being a golfer is like being a musician. The scorecard is the score, not the work. A golf swing is measured by a range of standards: how close the ball comes to the hole, how long the backswing and downswing take, how straight it goes in the hole, how well you are playing through the ball – these are all relevant stats.
A few people do get good enough to be judged by any of them. But most of us are judged by only one or two. If you don’t pass that test, you’re toast; but if you do, your winnings are usually small.
The old joke is that if you’re not a golfer, you should be a golfer. It’s true that golf is a sport for people who like to play games, but beyond the pleasure of doing well there’s something else. It is, in fact, a perfect metaphor for the human mind.
When golfers are in the zone, they are entirely focused on what they are doing. In an unusual way, golfing becomes a game in which the players invent their own rules and make up their own games. They’re inventing new ways of playing a game because they don’t know how to play yet; they’re learning how to think while they’re thinking.
In that sense it’s similar to problem solving. There is no right way to solve a problem. There just happens to be one way that works better than any other at solving problems that have appeared so far. That method is called “the scientific method.”
The scientist has not yet invented the scientific method; he or she is still learning it as she goes along. This book explains how scientists go about inventing science and how you can help them do it better.
In the 1960s, the leading golf handicap was a man called Bill Caspar. Golfers were held in awe by his flawless game. This was partly because he was exceptionally good at golf, but also because he had one very unusual characteristic: he never lost his temper. In this era of “mad driving” and “mad caddies” and “mad players,” this kind of self-control was a source of wonder.
In fact, Caspar’s remarkable temperament resulted from an even more unusual characteristic: he was both a genius and a sociopath. He had been subjected to electroshock therapy as part of his treatment for manic depression, which can turn you into a zombie if you don’t take it seriously enough. As a result, he had no emotions at all—and no thoughts either. He couldn’t think about anything except playing golf at the level that would allow him to be one of the best golfers in the world.
He was brilliant in an entirely different way from Einstein or Newton or Ada Lovelace: he didn’t need to think about it. He just did it, automatically and flawlessly, like a computer program—except that computers only exist in science fiction.