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Ordinary preachers may never dazzle, but most can learn to be pretty good.

I sliced my drive from the second tee, and the ball landed behind a group of oaks-not uncommon for a weekend golfer. My next shot had to cover at least 160 yards and land on the fairway to give me a chance at par. But there stood all those oaks, with few openings to the fairway.

On more than one occasion I had seen Jack Nicklaus hit through closely knit trees. I reasoned that if a pro hits through the trees, it must be the way to do it. I aimed at an opening and swung. My ball hit a tree and bounced back, landing a yard behind where it had originated.

Undaunted, I set up and aimed for that opening again. After all, that's the way a professional would play it. This time the ball hit a branch and careened to the right. Now it was surrounded by oaks. After a few more desperation shots, I finally sank a putt that gave me a nine, not very good for a par four. But I was thankful to walk away with that.

I could have fared much better, however, had I not insisted on modeling my game after one of ...

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