Mark Twain is sometimes given credit for saying that "golf is a good walk spoiled." But new medical research suggests that for some, it needn't be so bad.

Subjects who undergo up to six months of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment for sleep apnea can lower their handicap significantly.

The average golfer in the study, a middle-aged man, saw his handicap drop by 11 percent. The average improvement for golfers with a handicap of 12 or less was even better. Their handicaps dropped by 31.5 percent.

Without having their sleep interrupted by repetitive episodes of airway obstruction, golfers said they could concentrate better and said their endurance and decision making were enhanced.

Perhaps their spouses' games improve, too, when they are awakened less frequently by their husbands' broken sleep.

CPAP masks, worn during sleep, help keep the airway open by providing a stream of air. Some patients don't use their masks regularly. Golfers in this study, possibly inspired by the possibility of a lower handicap, were very compliant.

So, you middle-aged, sleep-deprived men who think of golf as a four-letter word, consider four different letters: CPAP.