Is golf lacking a bit of grunt?
By Paul Gueorgieff
Editor, Golfer Pacific NZ
I’ve had an idea.
I know, that’s frightening.
After all I’m a guy who discovered that it’s perfectly fine to place your marker in front of the ball on the green.
The rebel in me saw me take up this procedure several months ago and I am still doing it today. Although I admit I was comforted by 1998 New Zealand Open winner Matthew Lane who said we should all place the marker in front of the ball to lessen the chance of cribbing — also known as cheating.
So what’s my latest idea?
Last month I heard a guy on the radio who had monitored the grunting noises of tennis players.
This guy, sorry he should known as a researcher of nonverbal communication, said the grunts of tennis players gave clues to the outcome of a match.
This joker, sorry he should be known as a researcher of nonverbal communication, said the pitch of a grunt was a key to who won and who lost.
This guy, the researcher of nonverbal communication, said high-pitch grunters were more likely to lose than low-pitch grunters.
But the important bit, in my mind, was did the grunting help?
The answer was yes, according to the researcher of nonverbal communication, better known as this guy or this joker.
The advantages were both physiological and psychological. They are two big words but I’ll do my best to explain them in the context of grunting.
The first one is physiological. That means that grunting helped the tennis player physically hit the ball harder, perhaps by one or two percent. Quite clearly, one or two percent, could be the difference between winning and losing.
The second term of psychological is mental, in the brain, an emotion, a behaviour. The verbal communications researcher said sports psychologists argued that grunting helped improve focus and perhaps help pull off that winning shot.
So all of this got me thinking. I could hear the wheels grinding in my brain.
Why don’t golfers grunt, I asked myself. All golfers want to hit the ball harder and further, so would grunting help?
All golfers want to maintain their focus to help pull off that winning shot, so would grunting help?
Can you imagine Rory McIlroy grunting like Rafael Nadal with a full-blooded drive. And instead of the ball travelling a mere 330 yards, it would be two percent further at 336 yards.
And can you imagine Shanshan Feng screeching like Maria Sharapova as she unwinds off the tee?
Of course you wouldn’t need to grunt hard for a shorter shot. For example a wedge shot, where accuracy was the key, could be tempered to a squawk or a squeak. And a short putt could be accompanied by a cluck or a soothing hum.
Now the most frightening part of all this was that I tried it. On a quiet day at the practice range, before I wrote this column, I tried grunting as I hit the driver. It took a while to get the timing of the grunt correct but I started to think this could help. Now that is frightening.
Also frightening was the strange looks I got from the golfers playing the hole near the practice range.