While operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency are renowned for their intelligence-gathering abilities, they are equally adept at creating havoc in virtually any arena they desire. Whether it’s destabilizing a government, bankrupting a business or simply discrediting private individuals, their techniques are second to none. So it should come as no surprise that you can employ these very same tactics against your “adversaries” on the golf course. I highly recommend you pour yourself a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, of course (OK, OK, 007 works for the CIA’s British counterpart, MI6, but you get my drift) and commit these strategies to memory for your next round.
The Kung Fu Grip Technique
Confucius say: “Don’t mess with G.I. Joe.”
Direct from the CIA’s now-declassified in-house training manual “Studies in Intelligence,” establishing dominance over any individual, even someone occupying a position of greater authority or possessing greater skill, is a skill not a fluke. This can pay big dividends on the golf course, especially if your opponent has any doubts about his or her game. To truly gain the upper hand (pun intended), this tactic needs to be put into effect from the jump. In places where pleasantries and informal greetings are the norm (pretty much everywhere on the planet!) that means a handshake.
First, lock eyes with your opponent and don’t avert them. Next, spread the fingers of your “shaking hand” ever so slightly, making your hand seem a bit larger. As any bear will tell you, the bigger the paw, the better. Casually brush your palm against your pants or shirt on the way up — a sweaty palm betrays nervousness and/or fear. In the instant before the handshake, flex the muscles in your hand, hardening your grip. Then, present your hand firmly and initiate the squeeze. Make sure you’re the shaker, not the shakee. Never “break” your wrist — shake with a short, vertical motion of your forearm, aided slightly by your shoulder. Finally, don’t be the first to release the grip. Let the other person give in. And should they look away while shaking your hand, hold that grip an extra moment or two, preventing the release. Chances are, their eyes will track back to yours. Additionally, make sure your feet are firmly planted, your weight slightly forward. Off-balance handshakes just won’t cut it. Needless to say, don’t get cutesy and do that “finger in the palm” thing — unless you’re trying to send a different kind of message, which we won’t get into here.
*If your grip is weak, purchase one of those squeezable hand/wrist exercisers. When you start breaking people’s digits or wrists with handshakes, cut back on your training!
Planting Seeds of Doubt
“The more you plant, the more will grow.”
Psychological warfare is no joke. Many professional athletes, most notably boxers and MMA fighters, believe the fight is won (or lost) long before they step into the ring or cage. Passive-aggressive tactics that target your opponent’s psyche can prove devastating, especially when employed against individuals who lack confidence or tend to question their own decision-making.
Prior to your round, ask your opponent how they are feeling, suggesting that they don’t look well. “You feeling OK?” or “Did you just get over a cold?” or “Wow! You look like shit.” Don’t say it to be an asshole, even though it might come across that way — try to make it sound as heartfelt as possible, as if you genuinely care about their wellbeing. But the reality is that you’re getting them to think, even for a split second, that they look sickly or weak.
After your opponent tees off, when you know they hit a driver, ask why they used their 3-wood. Again, try not to make it too obvious you’re throwing shade. You’re not trying to crush their ego entirely — yet! — you just want to make them wonder what’s wrong with their game.
A hole or two later, pipe in a seemingly innocuous comment like: “I know how you feel. I’m dragging today, too.” Make them think you’re picking up that they’re tired or lagging, even if they’re clearly on top of the world with a spring in their step.
These seeds of doubt will play havoc with their mental state, even if they’re not aware it’s happening. The tide of a match can hinge on the slightest of edges, so make sure you’re the one who’s benefiting.
Disrupting Sleep Cycles
“There’s no napping in golf.”
Getting a good night’s rest before any competition is imperative, especially a round of golf, which requires both physical and mental stamina. There are countless studies on the benefits of an uninterrupted REM sleep. For those who don’t get a good night’s rest, when pitted against someone who has, the results will speak for themselves.
On the day prior to your competitive round, arrange for a friend or spouse (or any collaborator) to call your opponent at various times throughout the night, including multiple times in the wee hours. Make sure they use a blocked or untraceable phone (like a burner); you don’t want this underhanded technique coming back to you!
When you show up to the course the next morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and your opponent is dragging ass, you’ll know you’ve got them right where you want them.
The Everest Technique
Grasshopper say: “Gain the high ground.”
When it comes to warfare, achieving the high ground is a must. Some people take this philosophy to new heights (yes, yes — pun intended) by going out of their way to appear taller than their adversaries. So if you’re short (ahem, vertically challenged), look for golf shoes with higher soles, or possibly consider putting lifts inside the shoe — so long as it doesn’t interfere with your comfort, which could tarnish your swing.
Standing taller on the tee box can have a massive effect on your opponent’s mental state, especially if they are short to begin with. There’s a saying in the porn industry, something to the effect of “every inch matters,” but let’s not go there!
The Proactive Vorpal Bunny Technique
CIA operatives agree: “Do unto others before they do unto you.”
There’s a saying in auto racing: “Speed costs money. How fast do you wanna go?” Well, there’s a different saying for everything else that’s competitive, but with the same basic sentiment: “What are you willing to do to win?” Sure, some might call that cheating, but who’s to say? Depending on the lengths you’re willing to go to gain the upper hand, there are many tactics you can employ.
Sabotage is perhaps the best example of an overt tactic. I know of one scenario involving two well-known hustlers who agreed to play an 18-hole match for serious coin. The night before their match, one of the hustlers bribed their club’s porter. He gained late night access to the club room, took his opponent’s golf bag, and had a club fitter remove the man’s grips, shave 1/8 inch off all the clubs, re-grip them, and then put everything back in their rightful place, as if nothing was touched.
The next day, the sabotaged hustler’s golf game was noticeably off from the first tee, but he couldn’t figure out what the problem was; the amount of club that had been removed was simply too little to notice visually, but his body undoubtedly felt the difference. Naturally, the sabotaged player lost the match and the bet, and never knew what hit him.
In a similar but different scenario, a Sin City golf hustler I know replaced all the high-end balls in an opponent’s bag with ultra cheap knock-offs imprinted with the logo (Titleist Pro V1) of his usual ball. Unless you really studied the balls, they looked identical. Naturally, the balls performed like shit on a shingle, and the match was over basically before it began.
Another example of dastardly sabotage involved using a player’s medical weakness against him. After some investigating, a golfer learned his soon-to-be playing partner/opponent had a severe garlic allergy. Prior to their round, he managed to sprinkle some garlic powder into his opponent’s golf club — just enough so that it wouldn’t be noticed. A few holes in, the allergy took effect. It didn’t send the afflicted golfer to the hospital, but it provided just enough discomfort to throw him off his game, giving the saboteur the upper hand, which he parlayed into a victory.
Useful tip: Many golfers put talcum powder or some similar substance on their hands, including their glove hand, before their round, if only to dry sweat. If you’ve done your homework and learned something useful about your opponent, you can use this to your advantage.
Another sabotage tactic involves the peddling of rumors and false narratives. In this specific example, the saboteur called his adversary’s place of work. The “notifications” started at the beginning of the week, five days before their scheduled weekend golf match. Pretending to be a detective with the local police department, his opponent called his boss and began asking questions, hinting that there was an allegation of domestic violence, and he was just calling to see if anything had changed at work. Naturally, word of the inquiry got back to the “target” and his entire mojo was thrown out of whack.
Despite being in a dark place, furious that someone would try to mess with his livelihood, not to mention his entire life, and never suspecting the culprit was the man he was about to tee off against, he went ahead with the golf match — and lost miserably!
I heard talk of another sabotage attempt that started out in the business world and spilled over onto the golf course. What began as two heavy-hitter businessmen jockeying for the buyout of another firm ultimately concluded with a final negotiation on the links — the two principles and their attorneys.
But in the weeks leading up to this match/meeting, the two men fired all sorts of shots across the other’s bow, including having underlings send lurid text messages and photographs to the other man’s wife. This led to some serious marital discord, for a marriage that was supposedly already on the rocks, and ultimately resulted in a divorce filing. However, as the story goes, the divorce was the breath of fresh air the “target” truly needed and, thinking clearly for the first time in many years, he stepped away from the acquisition, allowing his opponent to make the buyout — a deal that ended up costing the buyer millions more than anticipated, nearly bankrupting his company. As the saying goes, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
The “Mouse Hunting With a Missile” Technique
Excess is best!
A beating should be a beating. Do it right the first time and you’ll never have to do it again.
Now some golfers (especially hustlers) don’t like to take this route. When they’re in full control of a match, and know their skills are far superior to that of their opponent, they often throttle back, choosing to win by just enough to keep them coming back for more. To keep them thinking that this time was just a fluke. That they’ll get ‘em next time.
But there are those who want to make a statement with their victory. Beat their opponent so bad that it amps up the need for revenge, causing their opponent to beg for a rematch and a chance at redemption even though they are woefully underskilled. Then, the psychological impact of the first drubbing will rear its ugly head at some point during the rematch, bringing with it a tidal wave of doubt, and the result will undoubtedly be the same as the first match — if not worse!
Regardless of what tactics you employ to gain the upper hand, it all starts with information. Intelligence is everything. Knowing more than your opponent, especially when it comes to your opponent’s weaknesses or areas of compromise, can tip the scale in your favor. So be smart, do your homework, look before you leap, and then go in for the kill!
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