Golf's rigors have never been limited solely to physical exertion. The effort required to evaluate the physical lay of the course or the alignment of a particular hole, the pains taken to assume the proper stance and execute a balanced swing at the ball -- these and other key elements of the game have always been a matter of utmost concentration and intense personal discipline.

Recognizing the important role of metaphysical factors, books on golf have carefully evaluated the mental and psychological aspects of the game. Titles such as P. A. Vaile's The Soul of Golf (1912), R. D. Townshend's Inspired Golf (1922), and Kenneth R. Thompson's The Mental Side of Golf (1939) presented golfers with thoughtful observations on the the essence of the game and the ways in which the patterns and structure of a round of golf could be assessed and utilized by the percpetive player.

"The mental condition plays an all-important part in golf," observes James Currie Macbeth in the chapter of his work, Golf from A to Z (1935), devoted to the topic of "Temperament." Theo. B. Hyslop addresses frankly and systematically the various Mental Handicaps in Golf (1927) and, utilizing two pyramid-shaped diagrams, admonishes his readers, "The reasoning faculty should rise above the emotional and even the volitional."

David C. Morley approaches the unlikely subject of "Freud in Golf" by arguing for a relationship between a golfer's efforts to master the game and Freud's understanding of mental activity as residing in two spheres, the conscious and the unconscious. But Alex J. Morrison takes the mental approach to golf still further in Better Golf without Practice (1940). Instead of weeks of mechanical execution of endless golf swings, Morrison says, the golfer should imagine the action of swinging a club over and over in the mind. Seated in a comfortable chair in the privacy of home, away from the distractions of competition or the judgments of trainers and friends, the thoughtful golfer can play a solitary mental game, rehearsing again and again the ideal stroke and swing in the realm of the imagination.

The Soul of Golf
P. A. Vaile

London: MacMillan, 1912

Inspired Golf
R. B. Townshend

London: Methuen, 1922

Mental Handicaps in Golf
Theo. B. Hyslop

London: Baillière, Tindall & Cox, 1927

The Mental Side of Golf: A Study of the Game as Practised by Champions

Kenneth R. Thompson
New York: Funk & Wagnalls , 1939