Editors' BlogJune 3, 2008

Add smile, lower score

*You make your best decisions when you're happiest. *Peter Thomson

Each morning as I make my way to Dunkin Donuts and the office I pass a sign that says, "Peace begins with a smile. We sell boxes." One morning, as I drove past the sign, I heard a radio report about "laughter yoga". Whoa, I thought, maybe there's something to this. So when reader Jorge Parada sent his letter about a tip he got, it made me smile.

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David Leadbetter's Lesson Tee on your June 2008 issue ("Open Mouth, Lose Tension") made me remember one of the best golfing tips I'd ever received. It came from a scratch golfer raised in China. When I asked him how to lower my handicap, he answered: "When addressing the ball smile and keep your smile throughout your swing." I found out that not only it helped to keep my body tension-free (Mr. Leadbetter's point) but also put me on a positive state-of-mind to face each shot. It works for me for all my clubs, putter included.

What a great tip on the eve of the US Open Challenge at Torrey Pines (to be played Friday) when scores, I'm afraid, may bring some of our contestants to tears. Sport psychologist Bob Rotella, who'll be caddying for contest winner John Atkinson as he plays Torrey Pines with Matt Lauer, Justin Timberlake and Tony Romo, has suggested in previous columns that smiling on the course helps you to relax, so I suspect he'll be suggesting the same to John. Like laughter yoga, smile therapy, it turns out, has some science behind it. Even fake smiles cause our bodies to relax. Which reminds me that the single best score I ever recorded was when playing with a friend who shot 138 and laughed all the way around. To her golf was a joke.

Talk about silly.

--Bob Carney

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