Bobby was acutely aware of the fact that golfers and teachers were much too wrapped up in the mechanics of the golf swing when it was the strike that really counted. He encouraged us to learn the game by playing it. And Bobby gave as fine an explanation of how to play the game as I have ever read in his book Golf is my Game. He wrote:
"Golf, in my view, is the most rewarding of all games because it possesses a very definite value as a moulder and developer of character. The golfer very soon is made to realize that his most immediate, and perhaps his most potent, adversary is himself. Even when confronting a human opponent, the most crucial factor is not the performance of the opposition, but the effect of this performance upon the player himself.
The play of the game at times exerts enormous pressure urging frantic efforts exceeding reasonable limits; at other times it offers a beguiling invitation to complacency and over-confidence, which can be equally deadly. The only effective defense in either case is a rigid discipline of self which will at one time shut out panic and at another maintain proper vigilance. The main idea in golf, as in life, I suppose, is to learn to accept what cannot be altered, and to keep on doing one's own reasoned and resolute best whether the prospect be bleak or rosy.
I have often found help in remembering that few things turn out to be as bad as promised, or as good; and that neither championships, nor even matches for that matter, are won by giving up when you are down or by becoming too happy during periods of prosperity."
If there was ever a finer description of the game and how we must mentally approach the playing of it, I'd certainly like to read it. Bobby goes on in greater detail about the mindset we must have to play our best golf. I will cover that in my next article.