I'm the coach who'll needle you on the course. Yes, you are looking at a golf guru-acupuncturist.
Acupuncture isn't hocus-pocus, it's science. That's what I learned 20 years ago in Hong Kong. I was a touring tennis pro from Nebraska with a bum shoulder, but after a Chinese sports medicine specialist treated me with acupuncture, the pain disappeared. I went on to earn a master's degree in kinesiology at UCLA and a doctorate at the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing. Since then I have incorporated acupuncture into the golf instruction I've given hundreds of clients, including actors Peter Gallagher, Randy Quaid and Kurt Russell. Like most Americans, they were skeptical at first but changed their minds when they saw the results.
Golf is all about calm. I like to say that you don't play golf to relax, you relax to play golf. The zone we hear PGA Tour players talk about is a metabolic state of calm, a Zen-like concentration. Most golfers don't know how to get there. On the range they can hit every shot, but once the round starts, they get excited, frustrated, stressed—anything but calm. That's where acupuncture comes in. I'll put needles in my clients' ears, or in the skin on top of their heads, before or during a round. Acupuncture works by triggering the release of endorphins, chemicals that contribute to the calm focus that I call playing attention. After 20 minutes I'll take the needles out, but the calm remains.
Unusual? Absolutely. But look around at any Tour event—you'll see the pros trying new swings and new equipment, looking for the magic. In fact, the magic is here. It's a fusion of Eastern and Western approaches to golf, and I'm one of its point men.