Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What To Do in a Bunker

There is nothing like the bunkers on a golf links for separating the philosophic from the un-philosophic among a golfing crowd, and when a representative of each section is in a bunker at the same time it is heavy odds on the philosopher winning the hole. There are two respects in which he differs from his opponent at this crisis in his golfing affairs. He does not become flurried, excited, and despondent, and give the hole up for lost with a feeling of disgust that he had committed the most unpardonable sin. He remembers that there are still various strokes to be played before the hole is reached, and that it is quite possible that in the meantime his friend may somewhere lose one and enable him to get on level terms again.

When two players with plus handicaps are engaged in a match, a bunkered ball will generally mean a lost hole, but others who have not climbed to this pinnacle of excellence are far too pessimistic if they assume that this rule operates in their case also. The second matter in which the philosophic golfer rises superior to his less favouredbrother when there is a bunker stroke to be played, is that he fully realises that the bunker was placed there for the particular purpose of catching certain defective shots, and that the definite idea of its constructors was that the man who played such a shot should lose a stroke as penalty for doing so—every time. It is legitimate for us occasionally to put it to ourselves that those constructors did not know the long limits of our resource nor the craftiness we are able to display when in a very tight corner, and that therefore, if we find a favourable opportunity, we may cheat the bunker out of the stroke that it threatens to take from us. But this does not happen often. When the golfer has brought himself to realise that, having played into a bunker, he has lost a stroke or the best part of one, and accepts the position without any further ado, he has gone a long way in the cultivation of the most desirable properties of mind and temperament with which any player of the game can be endowed. This man, recognising that his stroke is lost, when he goes up to his ball and studies the many difficulties of its situation, plays for the mere purpose of getting out again, and probably putting himself on the other side in that one stroke which was lost. It does not matter to him if he only gets two yards beyond the bunker—just far enough to enable him to take his stance and swing properly for the next shot. Distance is positively no object whatever, and in this way he insures himself against further loss, and goes the right way to make up for his misfortune.