Thursday, June 4 2020


Teed Off (Sep 28, 2014)

Update: September, 28/2014 - 21:20

with Robert Bicknell

Golfing legend Sam Snead once said, "The biggest hazard on the course is fear."

When you think about it, he's right, and not just on the golf course. We worry about things that we don't need to worry about, but cannot help ourselves.

People get a toothache and are terrified to go to the dentist because they worry it will hurt. Heck, it already hurts, right? They put off going to the doctor for fear of getting bad news, which simply makes any condition they might have gotten worse later down the road.

In a nutshell, we seem to do it to ourselves time and again.

Par 3, 150 yards. Under normal conditions, no problem right? For some players it's a six, seven or 8-iron. Not a big deal. But, put water in front of the green and add a few deep bunkers here and there and people start losing their minds (yes, an image of the Joker's hospital scene just popped into my mind too).

Water or no water, bunkers or no bunkers. It's the same shot that you hit at the driving range hundreds of times. But, adding in the hazard and the stress level goes through the roof.

Personally, I'd be more worried about the wind than any other hazard out there and you should too. You are in control of the shot. You know you can hit the centre of the green nine out of ten times, so forget about the water or bunkers.

You cannot control the wind, but you can make adjustments for it and still stay in control of your shot. You can either go with the wind or fight against it. Use it to your advantage when you can, or if not, at least negate its effect by choosing the right club.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (aka "FDR" 32nd president of the United States) once said, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself."

Especially on the golf course…

OK, it's that time again when the US and Europe square off in what has become a slightly lopsided contest of golfing greats in pursuit of a silver trophy. Yes, kids, it's the Ryder Cup.

The teams will tee off on Friday at Gleneagles in Scotland, which gives Team Europe the home field advantage, as if they needed it. On paper they have the strongest team, but history has shown that paper doesn't matter because there's more to it than statistics.

Colin Montgomerie, for example, would play like crap for the entire year, but when Ryder Cup came around, he'd slip into a phone booth and pop out as Superman. Fortunately, he's not playing this year, but it does serve as a lesson to not rely on statistics.

There are players who excel on their own. They are hard core individualists and couldn't care less about other players. Then there are those who step up their game a notch or two when it's a team event. They don't want to let their side down and, by the same token, seem to draw strength from their teammates.

Sadly, US players aren't in that latter group. They are individualists who are constantly evaluating how any particular match affects themselves and their ability to earn sponsorships or to get a leg up on the competition when normal Tour play begins again.

European players seem to be happiest when they're together. They eat, drink and party together and it shows in their golf. Watch a major when a European player is in the final group. Most of the Europeans are out there cheering him on. US players, on the other hand, if they're not at the top where a possible playoff is looming have already headed to the airport. Since they didn't win, they could care less. Off to the next event, next case.

This is the primary reason why I have serious doubts Team USA can beat Team Europe.

Until the US team begins to act like a team instead of a collection of individual players, they will never develop the spirit and camaraderie necessary to go that extra mile.

Americans believe in "E pluribus unum" ("From many one"). Heck, it's even on our money. Whereas the Europeans are more like the Three Musketeers - "All for one and one for all".

There's a lesson to be learned here. — VNS

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