The Golf War

Provides golf tips from Captain Bruce Ollstein, a former drill instructor and veteran of PSYOPS, an army's psychological operations unit. Ollstein's golf strategies.

By Peter Doskoch, published March 1, 1997 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Looking to improve your golf game? Take a few tips from PSYOPS, the army's psychological operations unit. "After all, golf is war," insists Captain Bruce Ollstein, a former drill instructor and PSYOPS veteran. And since many golf pros claim the sport is 90 percent mental, it's an ideal forum for some military mind games.

The purpose of PSYOPS is to crumble the enemy's morale, turning him into "a bumbling nitwit incapable of coherent thought," says Ollstein, author of Combat Golf (Viking, $15.95). In adopting this approach for the links, the captain's tongue may be in his cheek—but only partly. Some of Ollstein's down-and-dirty strategies:

Hand out some "gimmies." Early in a match, concede some easy putts instead of having your opponent go through the motions of knocking the ball in. Not only does this prevent your rival from developing a putting rhythm, but it denies him or her the psychological boost of seeing the ball drop in the hole.

Plant seeds of doubt. Is your opponent about to shoot over a water hazard? Crack an innocent-sounding joke—"there's enough ocean out there to float a naval division"—to undermine his or her confidence.

Leave them hanging. While walking toward your opponent's ball, launch into a long anecdote or joke--one you won't be able to finish before the next shot. Few players will be able to concentrate while wondering how your tale ends.

Silence is golden. Cut out the small talk, however, after an opponent's shot misfires—War game let 'em dwell on their mistakes.

PHOTO (COLOR): War games: Pro golfer Fred Couples sends shrapnel flying.

Edited by Peter Doskoch