The 1st Secret

The Desire

The first secret of golf betterment is an emotional one. You must have or develop the desire to improve. The strength of this “want” will determine one’s persistence, and persistence is the secret of success. Fortunately, the reader has already demonstrated his desire to improve, or he would not have bothered to read this far.

The desire to improve should be strengthened by being based upon strong needs. Great interest can thus be generated. Great interests produce other interests, which in turn produce others, like the branches, twigs, and leaves of a tree.


Years ago, I had a patient whose emotional illness had caused him to lose interest in everything. He had been ill so long that all his funds were exhausted. During the process of his therapy, one of the problems facing him was how to rechannel his morbid thinking into something more constructive. He had by now recovered enough to want an interest but had not the financial means to exploit the usual avenues of recreation.

One day, as he left the office, he absent-mindedly plucked some leaves from a bush. When he found them in his hand, he realized that he not only did not know how they got there but he also had no idea what they were. It flashed through his mind that there was something he could do to begin to develop an interest in life, and he determined to learn the name of each shrub between the office and his home. This he did.

It involved much more time and research than he expected, but when the job had been done, he had developed a permanent interest in plant life. Today he is happy and well, teaching botany as a profession and deriving additional income from his hobby as a nurseryman.

Real Needs

Ed Furgol, Bobby Cruickshank and others took up golf originally for reasons of health, and they can give testimony to the additional stimulus given to the development of interest when it grows out of real needs.

These needs are not necessarily physical in origin. One of our great needs is what has been called “personality plus.” This means that most individuals are made happier if there is one area of their lives in which they rise above their fellow man. People seek this “personality plus” in hundreds of ways-collecting cigar bands, swallowing goldfish, or the seeking of skills in competitive games. Of all the outdoor games, golf now seems best able to provide the “personality plus” with the most additional benefits.

Two of these benefits, emotional and physical health, are the foundation without which life becomes meaningless.

Find A Strength

For those who do not have the time, knowledge, or combination of talent and opportunity required to achieve the “personality plus” of championship golf, great satisfaction can be obtained from local renown or from achievement in one of golf’s many specialties. Joe Kirkwood, Sr. and Paul Hahn became trick shot artists. It is not too difficult to become locally known as an excellent putter, or as a specialist with a particular club, if a person will devote even as little as fifteen minutes a day to specialized practice. To aim at local recognition is a very satisfactory objective and, if achieved, means much more emotionally than does much greater recognition among strangers.

For those who have the highest ambitions, the undiscouraged young, they want to improve must be long-lasting. It cannot be discouraged by either minor or great defeat. It must be strong enough to endure many sacrifices. It must be concentrated. It cannot concern itself with the desire to achieve greatness in a variety of games. It must concern itself with the development of a passion for correct practice. Nothing will be lost because of great effort, for ultimately the final reward is suitably large, and the effort itself produces many pleasures along the way.