Saturday, 18 February 2017

Bobby Jones on Diet During Tournament Play

In his book Down the Fairway, Bobby Jones devoted his final chapter to tournament play. In my first article covering that chapter, I quoted Bobby concerning the fact that not all good golfers are necessarily good tournament players, as well as the fact that he welcomed the nerves prior to a big event, believing that he actually played better when nervous.

Bobby generally felt too nervous to be able to handle the basic pre-tournament breakfast. Here's what he had to say about diet:

    "Digressing a moment, I might explain here that I play better fasting. That is one of the changes since I grew up. As a boy I loved to eat; I still love to eat, but not on the days of tournament play, until after the second round. I used to eat plenty of breakfast of my accustomed kind; oatmeal, bacon and eggs, all too frequently cakes or waffles; and coffee. And at luncheon between rounds, hungry from the exercise, I would not think of denying myself something substantial, topped off by pie a la mode. Pie and ice cream--with an afternoon round to play!
     Not any more. For breakfast, when I can eat, a strip of bacon and a small chop and a cup of black coffee. For luncheon, between rounds, a slice of dry toast and a cup of tea.
     There is another difference between just golf and tournament golf. Playing an exhibition match, I eat--and drink--whatever I please between rounds, and seem to play none the worse for it. In fact, I could tell you the story of a match Max Marston and I played against two professionals, where our host took us to his home for luncheon between rounds--we were all square at the end of the morning round and having a hard battle--and administered to my unsophisticated palate five or six pleasant-tasting cocktails, whose bland disguise concealed a mighty kick. When I reached the club for the afternoon round, I had to get very carefully out of the motor car, and while teeing my ball I was concerned with my balance. This state of affairs, of course, should have been ruinous. But such are the vagaries of golf, when the tournament strain is not on, that instead if disgracing myself hopelessly in the matinee round, I led off with a three at each of the first three holes, finished with a 66, and our side won the match 6-5.
    Not in tournament golf. I have a good, big dinner in the evening in my room, prefaced by two good, stiff highballs, the first taken in a tub of hit water; the finest relaxing combination I know; and then a few cigarettes and a bit of conversation; and bed at 9 o'clock. And usually I sleep well, despite the curious strain that is always present, in championship competition.
     Some of the best informal rounds I have played followed closely on the heels of dietetic eccenticities that would cause a the coach of a football team to faint in his tracks. But, according to our little maxim, there is golf--and tournament golf. And in the latter I try to take no more chances than I have to. There are chances enough, at the best."

So, we can see that there are certain changes to our diet that may need to be made to deal with the ever-present tension involved in tournament play. Food for thought--no pun intended.