"All right," he said, beginning to strain downward. "Now you obviously have to move your arms to swing the club. So now you ease your left arm away from the pointed end of the spike and swing down—but the right side of your body is still pinned to it. But you can move your left side. So your right side stays hooked where it is, and you pivot the left side around it. Do you get the picture?"
I told him that I would certainly never forget it. I paid for my lesson, took the long ride home and went to bed rather early.
Yes, but what, exactly, is tension? Concisely stated, tension is when you are boiling with anger at something, or some person or group of persons (such as a slow foursome), or all these things. Physiologically, it is the feeling that the top of your head is about to blow off, that all your muscles and nerves are in a state of uncontrollable hysteria and that you must bust something.
Conversely, anger is controlled tension—that is, tension focused on a particular object. To give you an example: When you hit something with your closed fist, like a steel locker, that is anger. When you keep hitting it, after learning better, that is tension. Many people claim to be tense, or think they are tense, but really are not. They may have some of the symptoms of tension, such as moving their eyes nervously from side to side or speaking in a loud voice or getting into fights, but they are merely deceiving themselves. They are anxious, not tense.
Anxiety differs from tension in that it is characterized partly by fear. Anxiety can cause paralysis, or what is known in golf circles as "freeze." This usually occurs at the top of the backswing, or as one is lining up a long and difficult putt of perhaps two to three feet. Tension, on the other hand, prevents paralysis. A person in a state of tension fears nothing.
I am a fairly tense person. In me, the inner symptoms of this tension are fast reflexes, an ability to make snap decisions and to revise them in an instant, and an urge to play all games quickly. I have, for example, small patience with superfluous talk in golf—an often too leisurely game which inspires players to run off at the mouth any time they are not actually addressing the ball. Concise phrases like "It's your shot" and "You can't possibly have a 5" should suffice unless an emergency, like a looming foursome, comes up, in which case long arguments are an accepted ritual of the game. The other exception, of course, is when one gives an opponent a friendly tip on how to correct a flaw in his swing.
As for the development of tension in others, I think it is fair to say that everyone has the same frustrations, fears, sense of inadequacy, inner hostility and so on. It is these characteristics that distinguish man from the lower animals.
We are all, therefore, equally capable of developing tension. It is merely a matter of making the proper use of one's environment. Are there any further questions on tension?
Yes. Can everyone develop tension with the same facility?
No. It is harder for some people than others because of their glands and—well, uh, and so on.