The QATSPY Golfer’s Sports Page: Golf Swing Tips
By: Charles W. Boatright
The Impact of The Sport of Golf on a P.O.W. Veteran
The sport of golf is a passion of mine that I don’t only play, but have developed an intellectual passion and pursuit for as well. Not only do I have the pleasure of writing about the sport of golf, but reading the intriguing accounts of how the sport of golf has impacted people’s lives.
I enjoy research and studying those in the sport of golf, like- Old and Young Tom Morris, Babe Zaharias, Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, Sr., President Eisenhower, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Colonel Hall, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Price, Sir Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Thomas, just to name a few.
What could be more rewarding than reading and studying the impact that these golfers and current golfers have had on the sport of golf then to actually meet one of them and have an opportunity to interview one of these golfers.
A Vietnam P.O.W. from Hattiesburg, Mississippi
I would never imagine that I would have this opportunity to meet one of these golfers. But, in March of 2002, while I was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, about 82 miles south of where I live in Madison, MS, I had that opportunity.
I was attending a meeting with an Alcoa representative at the Hattiesburg Country Club, where the Magnolia Classic started in 1967. This tournament is now called the Sanderson Farms Championship, held at the Jackson Country Club. This tournament benefits the UMMS Batson Children’s Hospital.
As I was leaving the meeting, I noticed a Veteran who was setting up for a golf charity to support Veterans. I never pass up an opportunity to support our Veterans and to meet them. I recognized that this Veteran looked very similar to Colonel Hall. I was thinking, as I was walking to donate to the charity, that there are too many coincidences for this not to be Colonel Hall, especially being in his hometown.
Colonel George Robert Hall, a Veteran from the Hanoi Hilton
Here’s a little background information on Colonel Hall, and his impact on the sport of golf. I hope that after you read this article that you would find Colonel Hall’s story as fascinating as I did while doing this interview for what I called my Xerox Box Golf Project.
Colonel Hall, a Veteran and P.O.W. at the North Vietnam Hanoi Hilton for over seven years, after he was shot down during an aerial combat mission on September 25, 1965. Colonel Hall explained how the mental game of golf was key to his survival. Bobby Jones’ quote- Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course – the distance between your ears. This underlines that golf is more mental than physical, and that can be vital to Veterans who are returning home.
For most golfers approaching the sport of golf as a mental game between the ears, they should find this encouraging, because the mind has little to no limitations. The body has to function under various limitations. The mental game of golf offers advantages that we all have an equal opportunity to achieve a single-digit handicap.
Bio of Colonel Hall
Colonel Hall attended the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, for one year before accepting an appointment at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. There he was the captain on the golf team with a handicap of four (4). The four handicap would become an important footnote in The Colonel Hall story.
After graduating from the Naval Academy, Colonel Hall served in the United States Air Force and was later deployed to Vietnam. While on an aerial combat mission on September 27, 1965, Colonel Hall was shot down over North Vietnam. He was captured and held at the Hanoi Hilton, a prisoner of war compound.
Colonel Hall, along with the other prisoners, was mentally and physically tortured, starved, and kept in solitary confinement. At the Hanoi Hilton, Colonel Hall’s world consisted of a seven-and-a-half square foot cell, without basic necessities. The prisoners had little or no contact with the outside or each other. The only lifeline the prisoners had was their virtual world that they created in the theater of their minds.
Colonel Hall Mental Game of Golf
In Colonel Hall’s case, his virtual world was the golf courses that he mentally created and played in his confined cell. He memorized every aspect of each course that he had played, down to each hole, tree, rough, fairway, and the speed of the greens. Every day Colonel Hall would go through his routine until he was released on February 12, 1973, with 590 other P.O.W’s.
The significant advantage the sport of golf provides our Veterans returning home from the battlefield is the ability to deal with their anxieties.
During his confinement, Colonel Hall heightened his mental and visualization skills to develop a virtual golf course. Colonel Hall, in his mind, created what he referred to as his Pebble Beach. Colonel Hall imagined himself dressing for his round of golf each day by putting on his socks, pants, shoes, T-shirt, and golf shirt, and picking up his golf cap and golf bag and heading to the course.
Colonel Hall mentally dealt with his nerves on the first tee box and played each and every shot and hole of his home course and others. Without missing a single trajectory of each shot, Colonel Hall played out each hole, including taking in account wind conditions. He counted the steps that he would have walked between each shot and mentally wrote down the score for each hole.
Colonel Hall imagined standing behind the ball to get his alignment, going through his setup routine, presetting his wrists, and taking the club back up to the top of his swing. Colonel Hall felt his club dropping back down into the slot. Colonel Hall focused on the part of the golf ball that he wanted to impact. He heard the sound that the clubface made with the ball and held his photo finish position.
Colonel Hall mentally maintained his golf swing muscle memory, even as a P.O.W. far removed from the golf course. Upon Colonel Hall’s release from the Hanoi Hilton, the first thing that he wanted to do was to play his first round of golf, and have his first cup of ice and Coca-Cola .
Colonel Hall did a little better than that. In less than six weeks from his release on February 12, 1973, he was playing on one of the biggest stages in golf. On March 21, 1973, Colonel Hall, within six weeks, was invited to play in the 1973 Greater New Orleans P.O.W. Pro-Am Open, where he shot a 76, his handicap of four (4).
After leaving the Air Force, Colonel Hall became Vice-President with the Coca-Cola Company in Hattiesburg, MS, where he also flew the corporate jet.
After seven-and-a-half years of not even picking up a golf club, or maintaining any form of physical or strength conditioning, Colonel Hall stepped on a larger stage than his prison cell. Not many professional golfers would even consider attempting such a feat. Colonel Hall lost about 100 pounds of his total weight, including muscle mass, during his captivity and still had an outstanding performance, shooting in the single-digits.
The weight Colonel Hall lost was due to the P.O.W.’s daily rations of approximately 300 calories per day, as opposed to the average 1,800 to 2,000 calories. (By the way, Jack Nicklaus won the 1973 Greater New Orleans Open.)
Interview with Colonel George Robert Hall, an Avid Golfer
After I made a donation to the Veteran’s charity, I asked Colonel Hall if he had time for a short interview for research that I was doing for my Xerox Box Golf Project. Colonel Hall was more than willing to do the interview. We sat down at a small table in the clubhouse.
Below was my interview that I had with Colonel George Robert Hall, in March of 2002, at the Hattiesburg, MS Country Club:
Question No. 1
Boatright: “What did you use as a golf club?”
Colonel Hall: “I used my left thumb to represent the handle of the club, and placed my right hand around the left thumb on a stick. This also gave me the opportunity to maintain the correct grip pressure on the handle of the club. This also allowed me to preset my wrist action in the golf swing, as I did when I played golf on a regular basis stateside. My main objective was to feel my wrist action in the golf swing.”
Question No. 2
Boatright: “What was the key component in your golf swing to give you the most realistic feel, since you did not have an actual golf club or experience the results of your golf shots?”
Colonel Hall: “Everything had to be associated with my hands, thumbs, and wrists. I could not think about the floor as the ground for my point of reference. I could preset my wrist action in the golf swing in the proper golf swing sequence. If I could feel how the forearms and wrist action in the golf swing was set, I could virtually set and execute my golf swing.”
Question No. 3
Boatright: “So, your point of reference was waist level at your hands?
Colonel Hall: “Yes, to be more specific, my thumbs. I kept all the impact, essentially, at the level of my hands and thumbs, similar to how a baseball player uses a bat to take batting practice. Matter of fact, I thought about playing tee ball in my cell.”
Question No. 4
Boatright: “I have centered my muscle memory on two points, the base of my wristbands, the Pronator Quadratus Muscles, and the base of the thumb called the Thenars. Did you center on keying in on a particular muscle to execute your golf shot?”
Colonel Hall: “Yes, I read about how Ben Hogan described how he used his Thenars as being a key part of his golf swing to pronate and supinate his wrists and hands. This allowed him to open and close his clubface properly.”
Colonel Hall’s Question: “How did you determine the significance of the Thenars in your golf swing sequence?”
Boatright Answer: “In Kinesiology, my professor, Dr. Bunch, stressed the importance of three muscles used in the baseball-type swing to reduce injuries to the wrists and lower forearm. The wrists and lower forearm muscles I focus on are the Pronator Quadratus, Brachio-Radialis and the Thenar Muscles.
The Brachio-Radialis Muscle is a particularly unique muscle in the golf swing sequence since it can pronate and supinate and flex (or bend) the forearm at the elbow. The Thenars are unique in that they are the strongest and most dexterous muscles in the wrist action in the golf swing that have direct contact with the golf club handle.”
Colonel Hall: Now you gave me some validation to concentrate on the muscle memory I used in my golf swing sequence.
Boatright: Yes sir, I refer to my muscle memory sequence as The Critical Swing Path, keying in on the wristband muscle, the Pronator Quadratus Muscle.
Question No. 5
Boatright: “Have you ever read or seen a video series by Mr. Eddie Merrins, aka The Little Pro, where he focused on swinging the handle of the club and not the club. Similar to how you use your left thumb or stick to represent the handle of the club and how I use my right thumb to represent the clubface?”
Colonel Hall: “No I haven’t, but that is interesting how you use your right thumbs to represent the clubface. The more I think about it, that goes along with the same technique of having a strong or weak golf grip by the placement of the right thumb. I was doing the same thing, but I didn’t consciously go to that level or detail, like you did.”
Boatright: “If you think about the difference between the weak and the strong grip, most generally, it entails the placement of the right thumb on the handle of the club. That was the reason I think swinging the handle of the club is an important part to improving the golfer’s game and in what you proved.”
Question No. 6
Boatright: “So you interface with your golf swing by moving the virtual golf ball from the ground, up to your hands?”
Colonel Hall: “I found out by moving the ball from the floor of my cell to my thumbs gave me a better point of reference and feel in executing my golf shot. I had a more realistic golf shot and sound.”
Boatright: “You definitely proved that during the Pro-Am.”
Question No. 7
Boatright: “I’ve got to ask this question. What were your guards thinking when they saw you making a virtual golf swing with your hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders in your cell?”
Colonel Hall: “Probably, they were thinking that they have finally broken me, and I lost all touch with reality.”
Boatright: “If I had been your guard in a country where golf wasn’t a popular sport, or even heard of, I would think the same thing. That you lost your mind!”
For a more in-depth story of Colonel Hall’s story as a P.O.W., please refer to my article written in November of 2015: IMPROVING YOUR GOLF GAME WITH SIMPLE MENTALIZATION TECHNIQUE!
The Xerox Box Golf Project
Talking with Colonel George Robert Hall provided me with the important background information that I needed for my Xerox Box Golf Project. One of the biggest obstacles in golf is practicing how we mentally play. What the golfer thinks works one day doesn’t even work the very next day. This is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome that I discussed my Xerox Box Golf Project.
Colonel Hall: Before ending our interview, Colonel Hall: “What is this Xerox Box Golf Project?”
Boatright: I explained to Colonel Hall that I had three Xerox boxes full of data, consisting of time-lapse photography and research data. Two boxes were labeled, “THIS DOES NOT WORK.” One three-quarter-filled Xerox box was labeled, “THIS WORKS.” The partially filled box, “THIS WORKS,” contained techniques that I was able to replicate day-after-day, without fail, for a consistent golf swing.
Colonel Hall: Which box does my interview go into?
Boatright: In the Xerox Box Labeled THIS WORKS, because you proved what I was taught by my grandfather, Homer Boatright, since I was 12 year old.
Colonel Hall: With a last name of Boatright, are you related to P.J. Boatwright, Jr.?
Boatright: He was my distant cousin, his 4 X great-grandfather and my grandfather were brothers.
What Colonel Hall provided me was his repetitiously practiced golf swing in his prison cell that proved the importance of the mental game of golf. Colonel Hall, playing on one of the biggest stages in golf, at a Pro-Am just six weeks after his release from North Vietnam’s Hanoi Hilton, proved Bobby Jones’ quote.
Colonel Hall also proved that downtime, or not being on a golf course, does not have to limit your golf practice or workout routine. Focusing on the wrist action in the golf swing proves two quotes by Yogi Berra:
- Baseball is 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical.
- You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.
Operation Dog Tag- Helping Veterans Returning Home
Addressing the Veterans’ physical and medical conditions is why I have developed Operation Dog Tag to be able to provide a platform to help people to connect with Veterans and develop a friendship. You don’t have to have all the answers, just the ability to listen to our Veterans’ stories.
The golf course offers our Veterans a mental and physical avenue to deal with the issues they are presently dealing with:
- Feeling apprehensive
- Feeling powerless
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly
- Feeling weak or tired
One of the best opportunities we have to help our Veterans is to extend an offer to play golf with them and become a friend.
FREE– Below are links to the Operation Dog Tag:
Section 2- Operation DOG TAG | Objectives and Scope
Section 3- Operation DOG TAG| STRUCTURE GUIDELINES
Operation Dog Tag is FREE for Veterans and other organizations to use to help set up Golf teams.
To learn how the sport of golf can offer our Veterans an opportunity to help them deal with returning home, please purchase your copy of The ESPY Golf Swing Coach from the links below, or visit your local bookstore:
820 East County Line Road, Ridgeland, MS 39157
My book can also be purchased on-line at:
Health and Fitness Program Golf Exercise for Power
This book is based on a self-coaching forum (ASPEN Pyramid) that provides the beginner and advanced single-digit handicap golfer with a safe, ergonomic classic golf swing for more power and control, without debilitating injuries that are common with some modern-day golf swings. As part of the ESPY Golf Swing Coach is a workout program designed especially for golfers and an effective diet program detailed below:
Please take advantage of my SR-925 Diet Program, where I lost 6 inches in my waist in 3- months (FREE of CHARGE) with the CASPER Workout Program, detailed in Section 20 of my book, great golf swing workout:
One component in my CASPER Workout Program that I follow is using a Medicine Ball to perform what I call Stocking the Shelves, illustrated below in the figure:
Please include an exercise routine in your weekly schedule.
(ESPY Golf Swing Coach- ESPY App Developing the golfer’s Rhythm w/o creating the golfer’s Blues)
Also, learning The ESPY Golf Swing Coach process is an excellent way to develop Rhythm without experiencing the Blues in your golf game for confidence; learn how to take your baseball-style swing from the batter’s box to the tee box.
(Golfer’s Locker Room for learning and applying Simple Golf Swing Tips)
Please visit “The Locker Room” for an Index of all my golf articles to improve your golf game and life. Discover how you can take your baseball swing from the batter’s box to the tee box.
Learn How to take your baseball-style golf swing from the batter’s box to the tee box.
For Comments or questions please contact me at 1-888-514-1228 Mon – Fri from 9 am to 4 pm CT Zone.
A Recommendation for your Golf Game:
I would like to recommend an interesting radio program that I regularly listen to from my home state Arkansas on my I-Heart Radio app on KARN 102.9 FM station, out of Little Rock, AR. They air a golf show called Arkansas Fairways and Greens, at 7:00 AM CT each Saturday morning, hosted by Bob Steel, and co-hosted by Jay Fox and Charles Crowson. Bob occasionally as has his guess Alex Myers with Golf Digest and Ron Sirak with Golf Channel. I was interviewed on his show about my book, The ESPY Golf Swing Coach. This show is worth tuning into for golf news and information.
Jay Fox is an Administrator with Arkansas State Golf Association that discuss amateur golf and rules of the game.
Once you learn WHY, you don’t forget HOW!
Two decisions that you can make for yourself and your kids are to get a copy of my book and place the book and a golf club into their hands. You will never look back, but only forward. You will not miss with this for yourself and/or your kids.