ASK GOLF DIGESTSeptember 24, 2019

Does sucking on lemons while you play actually have a calming effect?

ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open - Round Four
Daniel Kalisz

Q: I heard about an LPGA Tour pro who sucks on lemons when she gets stressed out while playing. Is this true? Does this actually have a calming effect on people? —Carlos Watson, Indianapolis

A: Strange but true. When the going gets tough, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, a 24-year-old from Denmark, likes to chomp down on a nice, juicy lemon. It seems the ritual is partly designed to distract her. She has said it helps shift her focus away from stress or anger. But some nutritionists believe there are more benefits than that. Lemon juice contains potassium, which can help combat anxiety, and it has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Its electrolytes will also help keep you hydrated, it’s known to ease joint and muscle pain, and it even aids digestion. Other than the excruciatingly sour taste, what’s not to like?

Q: A ball is near a penalty area with a curving border. Stakes follow its edge, but it’s obvious that a stake or two are missing. When I line up the stakes on either side of the ball, it suggests the ball is in the penalty area even though it’s five feet away from the long grass on its border. Can I ground my club here, or am I in the penalty area?—Garry Desjardine, London, Ontario

A: The new Rules of Golf allow you to ground your club and take practice swings even in a penalty area, so this scenario really isn’t an issue anymore. It becomes an issue when you can’t find your ball in the penalty area or if you’ve got an unplayable lie in there. Then you’ll have to figure out where to drop another ball and take your one-stroke penalty. Not sure if you’re in or out? Kathryn Belanger of the USGA explains that if the course or the Competition Committee has not properly defined the edge of a penalty area, the natural boundaries of the penalty area should be used to tell if the ball is in or out.

Q: It’s difficult for me to bend over and pick the ball out of the hole. Is it legal to attach a suction cup to the putter to retrieve it?—Paul Shopper, Metairie, LA.

A: One way around this problem is the Jordan Spieth technique: After you make a putt, look at someone else in your group and say, “Go get that!” If this doesn’t work for you, then, yes, your suction cup is fine. Though the Rules prohibit “external attachments,” they include two exceptions. One is a suction cup at end of a putter’s grip, and the other is lead tape on the shaft or head to give it extra weighting.

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