Lee Bacchus looks at Golf

Golf And the Inner Voice

I hear voices. In fact, they never stop talking to me. When I golf, that is.

The voices began after I started taking long-overdue lessons about a month ago. At first they were friendly.

"Swing easy, big fella," they'd whisper encouragingly. Or, "Don't forget to rotate."

The voices seemed nice. Like supportive little caddies who lived in my head.

But as I took more lessons, read a few too many golf instruction articles, and as my scores worsened, the voices got more insistent, more negative.

"If you don't make a full shoulder turn, you'll pull this one into the THE LAKE!!!"

Often, one voice would interrupt another. As one tyrant advised me to begin a low, slow takeaway, another would chime in with an admonition to, "Keep that left arm extended!" And as that chatterbox was in mid-scold, yet another would remind me in no uncertain terms to, "Relax and fold the right elbow!"

Yes, the voices were multiplying like Viagra-fed rabbits. Some days, as I began my downswing, a virtual Greek chorus would materialize in my head, all of its members competing for airtime.

"Inside out!"

"Lead with the legs!"

"Keep your head back!"

"Let the hands lag!"

"Swing through, not at!"

But the voices weren't happy with merely treating me like I was a loser on The Weakest Link. They could be vindictive as well. For instance, after a slice into another fairway, one voice might pipe in with, "You see, you idiot! That's exactly what happens when you get ahead of the ball! Will you never learn!"

Sometimes they were loudest in the quietest moments-like over a putt.

"No, no, don't move your head! NO, NO, KEEP IT STILL!!! OH, DAMN, YOU PULLED IT, YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF DIRT!!!

And then there's that shrill Nurse Ratchit of a voice, who always screams above all the others to, "RELAX, DAMMIT!!!" At one point, and after much angst and bad play, I thought I learned how to silence the voices. But I decided that chug-a-lugging four beer before an 8 a.m. round was a not a great habit to acquire.

And so it seems that I'm stuck with these nagging voices for a while. I've been even thinking of giving them all names: Joe Bob, Henrik, Wayne - whatever. I figure if they stick around, I might be able to parlay it all into a confessional book. A kind of Sybil for the golf set.

When I look at the big picture, I guess I should feel lucky the voices aren't telling me to commit truly evil acts, like axe-murdering my playing partners or something.

Although recently during a really bad round, I think I heard one voice mutter something about lighting the clubhouse on fire.

Lee’s Top Three Golf Topics

1. RISING SON - Shigeki Maruyama wins in Milwaukee. To celebrate he didn't impale himself with a ceremonial one-iron.

2. TIGER'S TAIL-OFF- Tiger Woods experiences his version of a slump, which for almost everyone else would amount to a hot streak.

3. THE OPEN- This year it's being played at the venerable Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Are there any courses in Britain that aren't venerable?

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