Turns out, it's a lot more difficult than I thought. I always do my research before I begin any project, so taking up golf wasn't any different. I found that not only is this a challenging game of skill that requires some math ability (angles, distance, wind velocity, etc) but can also teach the player a great deal about life. I was intrigued.
It seems that many writers have focused on the values of integrity, honesty, fortitude, patience, and many other significant virtues that the game fosters in people. But I think there's even more to it; a mindfulness and a spiritual side, as well. For the sake of this blog, let's define spirituality as not only a set of attitudes and practices that are designed to make us better, kinder, and more compassionate, but also something that helps foster self-knowledge and growth. Golf may look easy, but it's not. It requires deep concentration and excellent body coordination, a "true test of mind-body integration." This is similar to meditation where the both the mind and the body must be stilled in unison. Mindfulness is being present in the moment. Golf requires the player to be present in the moment. If a player's mind wanders off, it will produce poor results. Life is very much the same way. Living, and playing golf, in present moment awareness brings greater fulfillment and joy.
Golf also provides an opportunity to commune with nature. This, in itself, can be deeply spiritual; the tranquility and peacefulness of the golf course, its natural beauty with abundant, lush greens and sparkling waterways. There's even wildlife to be enjoyed...birds chirping and the occaisonal squirrel that scampers by. (Personally, I think that there should be a few frogs in those ponds, but that's just me and fodder for another blog.) All this serves to relax both the mind and the soul. It makes you glad to be alive.
I've even read that playing golf will show you where you're attached in life and still need spititual growth. Golf is a kinder, gentler game than, say, hockey or football. You don't often read about golfers getting into altercations with each other that result in bloddied and battered bodies. The players are polite; it's far more Zen or Buddhist...certainly not the Holy Wars or Crusades. I bet if golf had been around 2500 years ago, The Buddha would have had at least one "green jacket."
Fully prepared with more knowledge than I had expected, I'm anxious to get out onto the course and take a few practice swings. I now understand why golfers say that playing golf on Sunday is their church. It really can be an uplifting and spiritual experience. It has the added benefit of being fun, too. And I can't think of a better way to spend my weekend.
See you back on Monday.