Dear Friends,

This newsletter will focus on three topics that all bear upon the mental side of the game.

1) Getting Help and Watching Tiger

2) Tribute to Althea Gibson

3) Scottish Golf--More than Just a Place

1) Getting Help and Watching Tiger

This past spring Dr. Putt enjoyed a couple of visits to the Master's at Augusta National to watch the professionals in their first major of the year. He was lucky enough to spend a hour behind Tiger on the practice range observing his swing. It was a beautiful thing to watch seemingly effortless power with perfectly consistent tempo and balance. Tiger hit three woods as far as most other professionals were hitting their drivers, rotating through a draw, and face and then a straight shot.

This was not the same swing as Dr. Putt observed for most of the rest of the year on television, as Tiger would try to muscle the ball and speed up the tempo for a little added distance. As we all of you know, he found himself in the long stuff too often to win as often as he would have liked.

Why try to hit it hard when one can hit it as far as almost anyone with more consistency and control by staying on tempo? Dr. Putt would bet that if Tiger were to take that tempo and balance to the tee every time, he would have hit a lot more fairways and not be in danger of losing his number one ranking.

Lessons? First, Tiger needs help, as many have observed. He needs help to develop a more consistent swing off the tee. We all need help, no matter how good we are. Dr. Putt is reminded of the old adage that a man who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer. Dr. Putt hopes that he is wrong in this case!

Second, tempo is a major key to consistency. No matter how skilled you are, if you do not maintain a consistent tempo, then you will have inconsistent results.

2) Tribute to Althea Gibson

Mrs. Dr. Putt has been working on authoring an encyclopedia entry for the remarkable Althea Gibson. As Dr. Putt is sure most of you know, Ms. Althea Gibson was the remarkable African-American who broke the color barrier in women?s tennis. You may also know that she also broke that same barrier in professional golf in the latter part of her most remarkable career.

As Dr. Putt was helping edit the entry, one of Gibson's comments about golf caught his attention. She said that hitting the golf ball was almost a religious experience. While she is no longer around to explain this comment, Dr. Putt suspects that she developed a ritual for each swing, as one does for a serve in tennis, which was a real strength in her tennis game. Repeating this ritual over and over becomes a kind of mantra. If totally successful, the conscious self takes a back seat and one feels a sense of stepping outside of oneself. Perhaps this is how it should be for all of us.

Gibson never won a professional golf tournament, largely because she never developed a strong short game. But her strength and power and grace from tennis certainly carried over to her game off the tee. Dr. Putt was privileged to see her play in the early 1970s in an LPGA tournament in Winchester, Va. Her length off the tee was most impressive. One wonders how good she could have been if she had been able to play the game at a younger age. We are all poorer for the discrimination that has played a role in limiting access to the game.

3) Scottish Golf--More than Just a Place

In order to escape the heat of the deep South, Dr. a nd Mrs. Putt try to get away for a few weeks each summer to some cooler clime.This year it was the highlands of Scotland for two lovely weeks in mid July.

While the major purpose of the trip was not golf, Dr. Putt did play a few rounds at some lovely (a favorite Scottish word for nearly everything) local highlands courses. One was a mountain course and the other was what was called a parkland course.

The Scottish golfing experience is characterized by wind and rain and sun, in decreasing order. Somehow the off and on again rain bothered Dr. Putt much less than it does back home. Perhaps that was because of the very relaxed atmosphere of the game in Scotland and almost certainly the lack of lightning. Everyone walks and the course is shared by young and old and male and female. Clubhouses are rarely pretentious and course personnel are invariably friendly. Golf in Scotland is not an upper class game, as it all too often seems here in the US. The game should be relaxing and fun. We too often forget that in our high pressure lives.

Dr. Putt hopes to go back in the years to come for a trip that is devoted to golf. He would encourage others to consider such a sojourn.

Best regards,
Dr. Putt