Editors' BlogJuly 8, 2008

The Secret(s) to Better Golf

Who knew it would come on a Tuesday, not even during a major week. But today a scientist at Purdue University revelaed the secret to lower golf scores.

As you may have suspected, it's about putting. Jessica Witt, a psychologist at Purdue, interviewed golfers after their rounds about their perception of the size of the hole. You know that feeling that "the hole looked like a bucket"? Well, turns out there's something to it.

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Witt's team asked 46 golfers to estimate the size of the hole after playing a round of golf. From a poster, they selected one of nine black holes, ranging in size from 3.5 to 5 inches (9 to 13 cm). In reality, the diameter of a golf hole is 4.3 inches (10.8 cm).

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Those who selected larger holes had better scores on the course that day.

In a related (I think) scientific study, researchers studying weight loss announced an amazing finding, with (I think) implications for golf. According to Science Daily:

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Keeping a food diary can double a person's weight loss according to a study from Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research. The findings, from one of the largest and longest running weight loss maintenance trials ever conducted, will be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.>

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And how exactly does this relate to golf, you might ask? Here's my take: Weight loss and "stroke loss" aren't all so different. In each case we're looking for reduction. Most of us keep score during our golf rounds--so we keep a "journal" if you will--but we tend to keep an inaccurate one. That's because of Equitable Stroke Control (ESC). If we're on our way to a healthy 10, and we know we can only enter for handicap purposes a score of 6, some of us (me) simply put the 6. What did you shoot, someone asks. Oh, I had a "newspaper" 79, we reply. That 79 is really an 85. Add a few gimmes that really weren't and maybe that 79 is really an 87.

My contention is that unless you face up to the 87, you'll never really reduce it. So, based on the weight loss finding, I'm vowing today to keep real score, thereby doubling my chances of reducing my handicap.hart your rounds and record them in the Golf Digest Challenge. Tracking fairways, greens and putts makes you an even better "journal" keeper.

In short, be honest, score lower.

--Bob Carney

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