Jekyll and Hyde
By Mike Levine
USGTF Master Teaching Professional, Port St. Lucie, Florida
The strange case of
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been used as a theme by Hollywood and
publishing houses alike for many years. Many remakes and new
editions of this bestselling theme continue to emerge from time to
time. And, quite successfully, I might add. How amusing to see the
mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll, by day, becomes the villainous Mr. Hyde by
Dr. Jekyll had a
valid excuse for his transformation. It was the “potion” that caused
his personality to twist itself and go astray and emerge completely
different from his “normal” self. This potion unleashed a “monster”
within. This monster was capable of untold acts of cruelty and
malice, bearing absolutely no resemblance to those who knew Dr.
What delighted me, as
an audience to this story, was the utter turnaround of
personalities, and trying to guess which the real one was…Jekyll or
I have unfortunately
too often seen this story played out in the most un likely and
inappropriate of places: on the playing field of a golf course. How
unsuitable for letting a monster free to roam these idyllic
landscapes. Truly, much of the most beautiful acreage in this world
provides home to a variety of golf courses – hardly the place to
allow or witness the worst of our personalities. We do a disservice,
not only to ourselves and our golf game, but to any others who have
the misfortune of playing with us and have had to pay for the
experience, as well!
So, what is your
potion? What is the mixture that unleashes the monster in you? A
shank? Or perhaps an OB on the first tee? That missed short putt for
birdie to win the hole or match? There are literally hundreds of
possibilities to concoct our “potion”… that moment we dissolve our
self-control and where rational behavior is no longer with us.
The potion can never
be an excuse for a golfer to “lose it.” Even the best have known the
frustration and disappointment that usually accompanies a round of
golf. To become the best that you can be, these moments must be
taken in stride. Loss of self-control and the resultant temper
tantrums have no place on a golf course. Golf is a game of
self-management as well as course management.
So, what is it that
causes a person who may seem to be mild-mannered and in control one
moment to become “Mr. Hyde,” the monster, the next?
There can be
thousands of reasons, but immaturity ranks the highest on my list.
It just doesn’t matter what you are feeling when a loss of
self-control takes the honors. No one else cares, and no one wants
to witness such behavior. Remember, nobody has the right to ruin
someone else’s time on a golf course.
Rarely have I seen an
improvement in someone’s game after dumping a load of emotional
garbage on the playing field. That debris only lingers and litters,
and makes playing conditions even more difficult!
The game of golf, in
a way, is a sort of “performance.” We enter upon the stage – the
golf course – and
try each time to give a command performance, the best of our best.
But, therein lies the rub, for even the best of
the best can’t do that. Those who expect this type of exceptional
performance as a given are continually disappointed.
to perform well. They, the great ones, are over-prepared, so that an
average performance is still a really good one. Prepare to give 120
percent, and 80 percent will still be quite exceptional.
The audience of most
players is just a few friends or acquaintances. Most don’t really
care how well you
perform, for they are busy attending to their own games. But, almost
all will remember if they had an enjoyable time playing with you.
Much of the joy of golf for me is the time “in the country,” so to
speak, and the enjoyment of friendship and camaraderie.
The golf course has
become a dismal workplace for many, with little joy and excitement,
continually tainted by clouds of disappointment, because we never
achieve that level to which we feel some divine entitlement. Without
the ups and downs and the unexpected, golf really wouldn’t be the
game that it is – a ladies’ and gentleman’s game. A game of life
As Bobby Jones so
eloquently stated, “The reward goes to the player who plods along
unruffled and unexcited, refusing to become angry with himself or
the results of his efforts.”
So, don ’t let your
potion poison you while playing. Rather, look around you, smile a
little, and maybe laugh a little at the scenarios that golf deals
us. Let the scent of the flowers and trees be your “potion.”
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