“You gotta put down the ducky if you wanna play the saxophone.” Words to golf by.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I had a niece who was two years old and hooked on Sesame Street. It must have been over a Christmas holiday (since I wasn’t otherwise in the habit of taking my morning coffee with Big Bird) that I watched this wondrous, star-studded nugget of cut-to-the-chase advice set to an infectious tune.
That particular morning Sesame Street was either fundraising or potty training (you gotta put down the ducky, latte, binkie, blankie, croissant, if you wanna call in your pledge or use the bathroom like a big kid) and before it was over my three brothers, two sisters-in-law and I were all belting out the chorus and getting down with the two-year-old who had that awesome squat and bump move that we vaguely remembered doing back when we were sixteen. (Rock on.)
Of late, as I grapple with resurrecting my golf game (trend good – progress report attached) I am reminded of this simple precept: you can forget about playing the saxophone if you’re hanging on to that blasted ducky (read: the hassle you had with a supplier 10,000 miles away or the jerk in the navy blue SUV who passed you on the right – in traffic – on Montauk Highway – in season. Death in these parts). You can’t have two things taking up residence in your brain when you’re trying to send that little white ball to a target.
As Doctor Bob Rotella says, ‘golf is not a game of perfect’. But if you have anything – anything – more on your mind than aiming at one specific target (the teensy-weensier the better), you may as well head straight to the 19th Hole and soak your head in a bucket of gin.
Go ahead, he says, think about swing mechanics, ball position, grip, wind direction and what you’re planning to order for lunch at the turn – hang onto your little ducky - and see if you don’t shank that ball straight into the water. Yes, siree, that’s exactly where it’ll go if your mind is someplace other than your target. Or, you can aim with forethought, pick a specific bullseye (third twig, tenth branch, left side, Norway Spruce, fourteen feet behind green) and maybe, just maybe you’ll send the ball in that general direction. Note to self: leave the ducky home.
‘Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect’, by Dr. Bob Rotella with Bob Cullen
‘Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book – Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf’, by Harvey Penick with Bud Shrake