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Sunday, 4 June 2017

Bobby Jones on Anger

Here I go again with another gem from Bobby Jones. I know there have been other great players. But never, in my estimation, have we as golfers been blessed with such a great golfing champion who possessed such intelligence and the ability to, in his own words, separate the wheat from the chaff about golf. In this short excerpt from Golf is my Game, Bobby talked about the problem he initially had with becoming angry on the course:

    "In the beginning I had one lesson to learn which, fortunately, does not confront everyone. It has been long and well advertised that in my early years I was frequently guilty of displays of temper on the golf course, throwing and breaking clubs, and the like. Outbursts of this nature are too puerile to merit any notice here. I realize, of course, that I should not have been competing in adult company so long as I failed to appreciate the grossness of these improprieties. Nevertheless, no one at the time seemed to recognize, as they have since, that I was only fourteen and fifteen years of age when most of these offences occurred.
     It was part of my golfing education to learn that these outbursts, however much they offended others, were in fact harmful only to me. I think I began to realize that the cause was only partly anger at myself for having missed a simple shot; the other part was a childish effort to make known publicly that such a misplay was not to be tolerated by a player of so much ability. Inevitably, the sense of guilt and shame immediately ensuing would affect my play for an important interval thereafter. Given this awakening, it was not at all difficult to refuse to yield to these ridiculous impulses and to assume an attitude of composure and calm. it even helped sometimes to admit to myself how really inexcusable the shot had been."

For those of us cursed with a bit of a temper, the urge to throw a club can sometimes become irresistable. And often, when we do give in to this urge, the temporary relief is replaced with a lengthy period of embarrassment. My greatest lesson occurred at Pine Ridge GC playing with a friend to whom I had recently introduced the game. I had a three-footer for eagle and, as is too often the case for me, missed the damned putt. I was absolutely livid. I picked up the offending golf ball, tossed it in the air, and hit it baseball-style. That might have been forgiveable had it not glanced off my friend's cheek. 

I immediately hugged him and checked to make certain I hadn't done him grievous bodily harm. Fortunately, he was okay. But that exoerience pretty much cured me of any further excessive displays of anger on the course. I am still absolutely mortified when I remember the incident. I might have killed him. And he would have been quite within his rights never to have played with me again.

I am, however, only partially cured. Sometimes that uncooperative club just has to be discarded immediately before it burns my hands, or I decide to bash myself with it. In fact, a couple of days ago I actually launched my driver into a tree top on three. It certainly didn't make me feel any better. And it almost stayed up there, which would have been really embarrassing. I once threw a six iron that ended up near the top of a tree and had to send my buddy's son up the tree to fetch it.

Those of us with tempers will always be a threat to occasionally toss a club, despite our best efforts to appear cool, calm, and copacetic. In fact, Bobby confessed that he still threw the odd club while playing friendly rounds with his father and his cronies; and he admitted that he gained a bit of relief by doing it. I think the important thing is that we make certain it isn't thrown in the general direction of one of our playing partners.