Being paired with Mr. Hyde might cost you a few strokes today, but in the long run you'll be better off. Just as links golf can improve a player's repertoire of bad-weather shots, enduring a round with an obnoxious golfer serves as a training exercise for any sort of adversity. "People are always practicing their swings," says Jensen, "but they forget that the mental side of golf is just as important—and you have to practice it!"
As for the jerk who offers swing tips, the doc has a foolproof remedy: "Just say, 'I appreciate your input, but I promised my coach I wouldn't listen to anyone else.' That almost always works."
Effective jerk management is a matter of staying positive when things go wrong. It calls for seeing every form of adversity as a chance to do something special. In the end, it's just like golf.
DR. RICK JENSEN, Performance Center at PGA National Resort & Spa
Palm Beach Gardens, FL; 561-852-3603; pgaperformancecenter.com
Individual lesson: $1,000 per day; Group lesson: $395 per person
Are you a type-A personality?If so, an obnoxious partner might improve your game. "Most of us play worse when we're mad," says Dr. Rick Jensen, "but highly competitive people are different. Anger can sharpen their focus on the task at hand."
Take Tour pro Scott Hoch. The Ryder Cup veteran thinks European golfers sometimes play verrrrry sloooowly, hoping to throw impatient Americans off their games. "I actually like it when somebody slow-plays me," says Hoch, "because I play better when I'm pissed off."
Perhaps the camaraderie at last year's Ryder Cup was its own sort of gamesmanship. During the Euros' feel-good victory, a mellow Hoch went 0-3-1.