It is sometimes difficult to determine exactly what caused an inspiration or exactly at what time of day it occurred. Revelations have taken place before, a great many of them more important, I say with all humility, than my discovery of the proper mental attitude to adopt to conquer golf—but seldom are the revelees able to describe precisely what happened.
However, I should say mine was the result of a series of traumatic experiences: a round of golf with a treacherous female (SI, Sept. 26), the pressure of an upcoming tournament, the mixture of strange chemicals in my blood and, finally, a session with one Dr. Corbin, an eccentric psychiatrist who thought he knew more than I did.
The revelation took place a few hours after the analysis—oddly enough, while I was in a cocktail lounge trying to work the stiffness out of my hands. To pinpoint the exact time is impossible, but it was somewhere between 6 and 9:30 p.m. I believe my unconscious was sorry for all the trouble it had caused me earlier and, in the manner of waking the Stanley brothers to reveal to them the secret of the steamer, was now trying to make amends.
This was the Rosetta stone of my revolutionary theory:
You do not get angry because you hit a bad golf shot: you hit a bad golf shot BECAUSE YOU DO NOT GET ANGRY ENOUGH!
The anger is there, lurking below the surface. It is up to you to learn how to use it. That is the essence of High Tension Golf.
Before going any further, I had better give some general background on golf for those who have just taken up the game or those who have never played at all. Golf is primarily a fight with oneself. In a strong personality, the battle is more hotly contested, of course, than in a person of anemic character. In addition to this emotional struggle, a golfer's body works against him. The human physique, while it is fine for climbing trees and can even be accustomed to squunching down in sports cars, is singularly unadapted to making the correct golf stroke. In the average human frame, the arms are hinged too close to the shoulders, the shoulders are too far from the neck, the arches of the feet are on the wrong side, the eyes are too far apart, there are at least one too many fingers on the left hand, and the spine is divided into too many pieces to allow a person to hit a ball with any degree of accuracy. These are scientific facts. It would also help if the knees bent sideways instead of forward.
For all its peaceable environment, then, and the leisure with which the player is allowed to choose a club, settle on a grip, examine the terrain, waggle and finally take a swipe at the ball, golf—because of the pressure induced and the eerie movements required of the body—is the most terrifying of all games.
The great majority of players fail to make use of the natural tensions of the game. Instead of turning tension back on itself, they try to reduce it or ignore it—probably because of principles dinned into them by the "relaxation clique," a cult of golf instruction that has dominated the game for more than 100 years.
I believe this is a fundamental mistake. I believe that a ball goes farther when it is hit hard than when it is hit softly, i.e., by a golfer in a state of relaxation.