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Poker players love golf

Ever make a wager during a round of golf? Perhaps not on the outcome of the game, but maybe on an individual shot? Something like, “If you make that putt dinner’s on me”?

Well you’re not alone. There’s a breed of serious gambler known for doing the same. Poker players love playing and betting on golf, according to the stories told in “Poker Players Love Golf” and “Why Poker Pros Love Gambling on Golf.”

On the face of it the two games couldn’t be more different. One is enjoyed outdoors, during daylight hours, and takes considerable physical ability while the other is played late into the night, seated at a table, with as little exertion as possible. But dig deeper and you’ll see similarities.

Poker and golf are both played at the individual level: these aren’t team sports. There’s an element of unpredictability which, with handicapping, makes golf a great sport to bet on. Both are cerebral games, relying on mental strength and focus. Winning takes emotional control, with decisions being made and put into practice based on facts rather than feelings.

In “Inside the Golfer's Mind: 10 things a player must do in a competitive round” Golf Digest’s Dr. Bob Rotella says, “If your head is filled with bad thoughts, your scorecard is going to be full of bad strokes.” Among his “10 things” lurks this pearl: “Know that nothing will bother or upset you on the golf course, and you will be in a great state of mind for every shot.”

Easy to say but harder to do. Take club selection. You’ve got a six iron in-hand when suddenly a seven seems a better choice. Do you walk back to your cart to switch clubs, delaying the four behind you, or say to yourself, “I won’t hit it quite so hard.”?

Here’s where technology helps. If you’re lucky enough to own a remote control caddy like the Bat-Caddy-X4R, Alphard eWheels Club Booster or the MGI Zip Navigator you have it bring your bag to you. That means one less thing to think about, so you can focus on your next shot. Better still, how about a caddy with “follow-me” capability? A model like the Stewart-X9-Lithium-Follow chugs along behind you as if on an invisible leash, so your clubs are always close by. (And don’t overlook the health benefits of walking instead of riding!)

Success in golf, as with poker, depends on staying focused. Not thinking about where your clubs are helps you concentrate on the next shot, which incidentally is another Dr. Bob tip. “Stay in the present … focus on each shot as it comes….” Hmm, maybe you should skip the wagering in your next round.