Fearless golfFebruary 10, 2011

Are You A Risk-Taker?

Why you pitch out from trouble or go for broke has roots in your psychological profile

*Seventy percent of the population is naturally averse to risk, says Jennifer Munro, owner of Golf Mind Rx, which provides mental-coaching services to golfers. Munro has worked with hundreds of professional golfers and has found that more than 80 percent of PGA Tour

players are risk-averse. Conversely, some of the most successful and exciting players, like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, embrace risk. "To play your best golf you need to know how your brain is wired to make decisions, and be aware of factors that can hurt or help that process, like the pace of your pre-shot routine and the people you play with," says Munro, who classifies golfers into four main types. To find out your type, select the answer that best applies to you in the following 11 questions. Total the point values of your answers and consult the key at the end of the quiz. *

1. On your way to the golf course you drive

+ 1 The speed limit or a little below.

+ 2 A little above the speed limit.

__+ 3 __ 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

+ 4 11-plus mph over the speed limit.

2. Your golf clothes are

+ 1 Conservative colors like khaki and white.

+ 2 Wilder colors and patterns than your off-course clothes.

+ 3 Mostly trends and top labels.

+ 4 Your uniform for competition. You prefer strong, solid colors like red, black and blue.

3. On the first tee, a player in your foursome suggests a game with a monetary wager. You

+ 1 Refuse to play on principle.

+ 2 Would rather not gamble, but will go along if the stakes are low.

+ 3 Were about to suggest the same. You like the added fun of a bet.

+ 4 Add automatic two-down presses. You like to play for enough cash to make it interesting.

4. There's a par 3 with a long carry over water. On the tee you

+ 1 Reach into your bag for an old ball.

+ 2 Might consider switching to an old ball if your swing is off that day.

+ 3 Keep playing the same ball. You like to think positive.

+ 4 The thought of switching to a less-valuable ball never crosses your mind.

5. At the member-guest cocktail party you

+ 1 Mostly find yourself listening to what is being said.

+ 2 Look for your group and join them.

+ 3 Find the bar and talk to everyone who comes by.

+ 4 Tease your competitors.

6. In a four-ball team match, an opponent takes what you believe is an illegal drop. You

+ 1 Say nothing.

+ 2 Tell your playing partner and defer to him for the next course of action.

+ 3 Approach in a friendly manner like your opponent might have done it by accident.

+ 4 Confront the opponent directly and without hesitation.

7. There's a blind tee shot on an uphill par 4. You

+ 1 Insist on verifying the fairway is clear before anyone hits.

+ 2 Suggest your group wait a few more minutes; by then the group ahead should be gone.

+ 3 Will hit if others hit, or you might go check if you have a cart to drive to the top of the hill.

+ 4 Hit away; those slowpokes need to get moving, and besides, it's the course's fault for not having a bell or a mirror.

8. You're on the 18th green with an extremely slick, downhill curler for birdie and your best score ever. You

+ 1 Read the break from both angles. You stroke it a cozy speed so it might go in, but if it doesn't you'll still have matched your personal best.

+ 2 Don't want too long a comebacker, but you won't forgive yourself if you miss this putt on the low side.

+ 3 Don't spend much more time on it than you would a normal putt. You perform best when you keep a quick routine.

+ 4 Hit it firmer to take some of the break out and increase your chance of making it.

9. Your company is having a golf outing. Someone has to play with the boss and his biggest clients. You

+ 1 Avoid it.

+ 2 Accept the opportunity and practice to make sure you're prepared.

+ 3 Are excited at the chance to show your boss how well you interact with clients.

+ 4 Can't wait to challenge your boss to a match and wager.

10. When you buy new clubs you

+ 1 Read the Golf Digest Hot List thoroughly, then spend weeks or even months seeking more advice and demo-ing clubs until you make a decision.

+ 2 Scan the Golf Digest Hot List for clubs similar to the ones you're replacing, then promptly demo to finalize your purchasing decision.

+ 3 Pay attention to the clubs that your friends and favorite pros are using.

+ 4 Have no qualms paying top dollar. If a piece of equipment is going to make you better, you want it now.

BONUS Your ideal round of golf is

__+ 1 __ Playing a course you know well and finding the "key" to consistently repeating your swing.

+ 2 Playing with relaxed and calm partners without being rushed.

+ 3 Playing a beautiful course with people who are fast and sociable.

+ 4 Playing a difficult course with tough competitors.

Click here for your psychological profile