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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

To the Hilt

I've been reading Arnold Palmer's book My Game and Yours.  It's quite an interesting read, dealing more with the mental side of the game than the mechanics of the golf swing.  He has one chapter entitled How to Reach Inside Yourself which, I think, contains some great advice for all golfers, regardless of their ability.

Arnie suggests that we should all play the game "to the hilt."  He writes: "Most amateurs give up too quickly when they get in trouble on the golf course."  He talks about the businessman playing a fifty cent Nassau with his buddies who gets himself in trouble and basically just gives up.

Arnie writes:

"If that same businessman was faced with ruin at the office, you'd never catch him taking his bad luck lying down.  He'd grit his teeth and start thinking.  He would concentrate so hard that he wouldn't know it was lunchtime...One way or another he'd weather the crisis and save the business.  Why not at golf?  Try it.  Start thinking your way around the course, calculating the risks and advantages of every possible kind of shot...And when you get in trouble, reach inside yourself.  You'll probably find more there than you ever knew existed.

"Sometimes, of course, you'll fail--miserably. (The pros do, too.)  Maybe you'll fail most of the time.  But until you've dared to try and brought off an impossible shot from the rough or from the water, or have salvaged a hole by laying a monster of a two iron stiff against the pin, you'll have missed golf's greatest playing thrill.

"I've told many businessmen golfers, in person, the things I have been saying in this chapter.  And sometimes I've run into a reaction that you may also have at this point.  'I just don't want to play the game that hard,' the amateur will say.  'I'm playing for fun and relaxation.  I don't want to make a federal case out of it.'

"Well, now, wait a minute.  Sure, the amateur plays for fun.  The question is: How can he have the most fun?  Only, in my opinion, by playing the game to the hilt.  If all you're doing is walking around the course and swinging the club aimlessly, without thought and without concentration, you may as well be taking a walk in the woods, which is cheaper and will give you an equal amount of exercise.  But if you're playing golf as a sport--and I'm convinced that most people play it as a sport, not just for the exercise, as is proved by the recent popularity of golf carts, which take most of the exercise out of it--you have to play to win in order to enjoy it.

"You want to have fun.  You want to relax and get away from your business woes, your personal problems, the tensions of everyday life.  The way to do it is to concentrate on the game, to think about golf and nothing but golf.  Your four hours on the course should take you into a different world, where you are totally absorbed in a form of thinking, action and strategy completely different from anything you do the rest of the week.  That's the way to get the utmost in pleasure and energy-restoring refreshment out of golf.  The harder you work at the game, the more it will relax you...

"So play golf to the hilt.  Win, lose or draw, good day or bad, you'll be happier for it and you'll live longer."

Thanks, Arnie, I needed that.