Maybe we could play golf like it's a contact sport

Hooray! It's football season again. And it's still golf season, too - as it is every season.

Maybe we ought to combine the two and have golf as a "contact sport" - or at least a more energetic activity?

Let me tell you about my efforts to simply add more exertion to golf.

I've always been an exerciser, since age 12. I ran, biked, swam and walked the golf course all my life. One warm Christmas afternoon years ago, I was on the driving range and thought I'd get a few holes in before the sun went down.

I also wanted to run a couple of miles at the track on the way home.

Not having time for both, it occurred to me, "Why not take a few clubs and run the golf course?"

Nobody was around, so off I went with five clubs, putted everything out, and shot a 45 in 34 minutes - all by hit and run. "Pretty good," I thought, "and I still have time to play the back nine."

Thirty-three minutes later I came in with a 41, making it a score of 86 for 18 holes in an hour and seven minutes. Heck, I thought, sometimes I take four hours to shoot that!

Subsequently, I tried other variations on running golf. One memorable outing resulted in a 99 in 57 minutes, with nothing but a 3-iron - out of bunkers, putting, everything with a 3-iron.

So, now that we are exerting ourselves on the golf course, how about contact? You know, body checking other golfers, like in hockey, or whacking them with one of your sticks like in lacrosse? Maybe even tackling and wrestling your opponents to the ground to wear them out if they get too far ahead?

Nah, that will never fly. Nonetheless, mental similarities do exist between golf and contact sports. Take football for example:

  • Rules: As many obscure rules exist in football as in golf, like the 2014 Notre Dame - Florida State "pick" controversy. The Irish now understand and won't infringe upon that rule again!
  • Momentum: Getting off to a strong start can dictate the mindset early in both sports. Of course, playing the percentages is important, too, easing into the game with simple running plays, or just making a few pars to get the momentum started can be a smart strategy, too.
  • Notes: These days, both golfers and quarterbacks have more notes to refer to than the average college professor.
  • Pressure: Fourth down, goal line plays and pressure 3-footers for the win both require similar steadiness, precision and ice water in the veins.
  • Field goals: Placekickers and golfers face similar challenges. Both have to perfect their swings, make pure contact with powerful timing and keep their heads down. Both have too much stress-producing time to think about their next shot. Both have a distant target, wind and other elements to deal with. And once the ball is in position, all eyes are on them and the outcome is nobody but their responsibility.

Whoopie! Football-golf season, again. Time to think and play like a jock, maybe like Brooks Koepka!

Dr. Tom Dorsel of Hilton Head Island is a clinical-sport psychologist and author of "GOLF: The Mental Game." Dorsel.com


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