My friend and I rode down the third fairway at Hanover Country Club while competing against each other in the White Rose Amateur golf tournament.
I said, "Look at the woodpecker over there, dodo."
I had started the round well, and he had started poorly. I could see steam coming out of his ears. I was trying to put the fire out by diverting his attention to the red-headed woodpecker I spotted. These strikingly beautiful creatures display vivid colors of red, black and white. I had never seen one before. I've always used blending the nature into the golf course as a method of redirecting my thoughts.
Anyone who has played golf can understand the continual strain that confronts our gray matter. During a four-hour examination, I occasionally take my mind totally away from golf. Whether I'm playing good or bad, I'm cognizant of flora, fauna, feathered friends and four-legged creatures — fore Fs — my refuge. Everyone who plays needs a way to calm his mind, especially in pressured situations. When Nick Faldo hits a bad shot, he instantly transformed the thought as though the mishap occurred yesterday or a week ago.
I'll never forget Jack Nicklaus winning his own tournament after hitting a tee shot out of bounds on the 17th hole. Everybody thought he had just lost the tournament with the errant tee shot. Nicklaus refocused, made a birdie with his second ball and went on to victory. There will never be another Golden Bear!
Nicklaus credited his power of concentration to willpower to eliminate all thoughts other than the one concerning the current shot he had to play.
If you have your temperament under control, but hit numerous bad shots anyway, I suggest seeing your local PGA golf professional for help. I go to Scott Cole for instruction. Cole has attended Hank Haney's instruction school twice and can handle players of all levels of ability. He's excellent.
Keep in mind, lessons are most valuable at the beginning of the year. Don't wait until midseason after you have grooved bad habits; it will be much more difficult to rectify the problem.
Put Hanover CC on your list of courses to play — it's beautifully manicured and has small greens, placing a premium on iron play and short game skills. Next week we'll talk about my friend's course where he owns 19 club championships. (16 CC, 3 Sr. CC )
HCC Fore F Rating 5 Stars
Scott Stoner is in his 33rd year teaching technology education at Cumberland Valley Eagle View Middle School and has coached the Cumberland Valley High School golf team for 21 years, winning seven championships. He advanced to the Final 64 in the 1979 U.S. Amateur Golf Championship in Cleveland.