Swing Time

By Krucoff, Carol | The Saturday Evening Post, July/August 1996 | Go to article overview

Swing Time


Krucoff, Carol, The Saturday Evening Post


Music motivates and improves athletic performance.

"The trouble with golf," says novice player Mary Sheridan, "is that if you think too hard, it messes you up." Mental checklists reminding her to put her feet here, tilt her head there, and keep her eye on the ball result in an "analysis paralysis" that makes Sheridan tense up and play poorly.

That's why the SO-year-old psychiatric social worker from Evanston, Illinois, sings the country-western tune "Give Me One More Shot" to herself when she prepares to tee off. "I take three gentle little practice swings to the rhythm of the song, then go to the ball," she says. "The music gives me cues about what to do. Plus it distracts me, calms me, and makes the game a lot of fun."

It also improves players' scores, say Sheridan's instructors at the Green To Tee golf school in Deerfield, Illinois, where waltzes, cha-chas, mambos, and other music are all part of an innovative program called Rhythmic Golf Training.

"The golf swing is a dance, and our instruction often has the look and feel of dance class," says Joe Bosco, a former real-estate broker who developed the program with Peter Donahue, the former head professional at the Winnetka (Illinois) Golf Club, and Ray Tasch, a golfer and ballroom dancer.

Students learn a preshot routine, set to a rhythm, which is like a dance step that enables them to move with the beat. "Plus, music helps your mind become quiet and focused," says Bosco, who sings portions of Mozart's 21 st Piano Concerto to himself when he plays. The Winnetka Golf Club's champ before launching Green To Tee, he adds, "We're talking about a Zen approach where you don't have to be a thinking machine. You can dance your way to better golf."

In fact, a highlight of the training comes when students watch a dance routine from the movie Carefree, where Fred Astaire tees off a series of balls in rhythm, pausing only for a fast shuffle between strokes. "Seeing Astaire's natural swing, done to music, lets people view golf in a completely different way," says Bosco, who also has students hit the ball with their eyes closed. "Closing off one sense heightens other senses. So instead of just seeing the rhythm, you learn to hear it and feel it, too."

This connection between music and movement has been around since the days humans first beat on drums. …

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