The Five Cent Golf Lesson

Watching Peter Kostis analyze amateur swings at the AT&T National Pro-Am always reminds of Lucy’s psychiatry booth in Peanuts. I visualize Kostis sitting behind the 17th tee, offering 5 cent analysis and therapy.

This year Kostis had a co-therapist, with Nick Faldo jumping in and adding his suggestions. It reminded of bad group therapy sessions I’ve seen, with two therapists pitching in and flooding a patient with more information than can be absorbed. It may all be true, but it’s unlikely to help very much.

On the other hand, watching the videos of the amateurs’ swings is therapeutic for me. It may not be helpful to see that just about everyone fights coming over the top and that I don’t have as much trouble with footwork as a lot of folks do, but it does somehow make me feel better. It’s the “I may have problems, but look at that guy,” effect. (And he gets to play Pebble Beach!? Is that fair? I ask you!!)

One of psychologist Albert Ellis’s favorite observations was that people are “nauseatingly similar.” Ellis was the developer of Rational Emotive Psychotherapy, a no-nonsense approach to therapy that essentially says that irrational beliefs are what make us miserable. It isn’t what happens, it’s what you tell yourself about what is happening, and a lot of what you tell yourself is irrational. When people would come in wearing their problems like a badge of honor, thinking that no one has ever suffered quite like they have, Ellis would puncture that balloon by telling them that people are “nauseatingly similar.”

I don’t know if Albert Ellis was a golfer, but it’s a great demonstration of how similar people are. Not only are all those amateur swings fighting similar problems, but Charlie Wi can four putt, just like me.

But there’s no way I’ll ever shoot 64 to win at Pebble. Even if I could afford the greens fees and paid Kostis a nickel for analysis of every shot and asked Faldo for a second opinion. It ain’t gonna happen. People aren’t quite that “nauseatingly similar.”

I wonder how tired Kostis gets of saying “Konica Minolta Biz Hub Swing Vision Camera?” He must hear that in his dreams.

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