When sports psychologist Tom Ferraro first created his Yin and Yang cartoon characters for a comic strip in Long Island Golf & Tennis Magazine in the mid-1990s, he saw it as just a creative outlet based on personal experiences and situations loosely based on his Williston Park practice.
The cartoon was featured in Golf Champion Magazine over the past decade as the characters started speaking in Korean, and this summer Ferraro published a book using the characters in South Korea .
The title is “Tales of Neurotic Golfers” Yin and Yang.
“Golf is huge there,” he said, adding that he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction he received during a recent book tour in Seoul, South Korea
Ferraro said he is currently trying to find a U.S. publisher for the book. The comic strip also currently appears in Long Island Tennis magazine, with Yin and Yang wielding rackets instead of golf clubs.
The Yin character is the self-critical duffer prone to fail, ruled by negative emotions. Yang is the self-confident golfer certain he will succeed with every swing, never letting his emotions intrude on his game. They’ve undergone some changes, taking up the practice of Bikram Yoga for a comic strip in New Life Yoga Magazine several years ago.
That particular permutation is indicative of Ferraro, who practices yoga, interjecting aspects of his own state of mind into the characters.
“It does come from parts of my mind, different parts of my character,” he said.
For the book, Ferraro drew on past cartoons, incorporating two other golf buddies: Mr. Cool, a thoroughly self-obsessed narcissist and Adam Bomb, a raging golfer ready to throw his clubs after every errant stroke.
“The insights and the fun ideas come from anywhere,” said Ferraro. “I tried to render the book in a very simple way.”
The book introduces the four some of characters, Yin, Yang, Mr. Cool and Adam Bomb, explaining the aspects of each personality.
It presents strips, some original to the book, that complement an accompanying passage of advice on a particular theme. In a section on missing shots, a recurrence Ferraro said all golfers must learn to cope with, he observes, “Golfers will often experience deep despair on the links caused by perfectionism.”
The remedy? “You must learn to accept bad holes and put them behind you before you get to the nest tee,” Ferraro writes. He suggests approaching the next tee with shoulders back, and saying to yourself, “Okay I forgive myself...Now it’s time to plan the next shot.”
The concept for the strip was suggested to him by an editor at Long Island Golf & Tennis Magazine, for which he also wrote a sports psychology column. Ferraro sketches out the story lines for each comic strip, and has worked with different illustrators to render the final form of each strip.
Ferraro is board certified as a psychoanalyst. He has more than 15 years of clinical experience working with professional golfers, hockey players, boxers, jockeys, tennis players, football players, and other athletes in his practice located at 2 HIllside Ave. in Williston Park.
In his spare time he breeds horses, plays golf with a 3 handicap, and regularly appears on television and radio for sports commentary.