Golf Rumination by Chuck Thurston

Standard

I don’t necessarily – and I will qualify necessarily in a bit – view golf as a spiritual exercise, although Robert Redford did once. Check out his scrumptiously filmed “The Legend of Bagger Vance”. It is formed within the framework of the Bhagavad Gita – a part of Hindu scripture. I have claimed that golf is one of the most redemptive games in the world; no matter how bad you screw up, there is always another club in the bag, another shot, another hole, another course, another day. I suppose that you can assign some spiritual qualities to that.

The lesson behind the redemption, though, is a lesson that every pro – at one time or another in his or her career – has offered to an interviewer holding a mike: put that last bad shot or hole or round behind you. The next shot, the next hole, the next round needn’t be like the last one. It simply isn’t good enough to know that you have another chance – You have to shrug off your misfortune and take advantage of the next opportunity. It may be simplistic to say so, but I think the key to that is (oh no, not THAT old sermon) focus!

I went to meet a buddy for a round of golf this morning. He had a doctor’s appointment, and would arrive later; I could be there early and get in a few holes before he arrived!

Charlotte skyline through trees

It is a great little urban course within sight of the Charlotte city skyline, and I knew that the morning rush hour traffic would be brutal. It was – and I barely made my tee time – 8:28. It was Ladies Day, and they would start at 8:30. I would have to hustle to keep from being pushed. The course was wet from two or three days of drizzle and fog. Balls hitting the ground threw up rooster tails of water before rolling to a sodden stop. My buddy called me around the third hole and told me he couldn’t make it. My wife called to tell me the heating and air guys had to order a part to fix the heat pump. My game – sucked.

All of the morning’s irritations were working their way into my game. The nerve! I grumbled along, and then along about the fifth hole, I woke up. I knew what was wrong with me and I knew how to fix it. We almost always know this. I am convinced of it. I know how a shot is supposed to be lined up. I know what my grip should be. I make pretty good club selections. I have played this course many times and know what drive placement works best if you want a shot at par – or bogey – a result that mollifies, if not completely satisfies, me. I knew all this stuff, but I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t doing it because I was focused on the other baloney of the day. I would like to say I creamed the last four holes, but I rarely cream anything on a golf course. But – my last four holes were three strokes better than my first four.

I don’t offer this as the wisdom of the ages, but pick that ball up from the cup, soldier on to the next hole, select the club you want and take a good long look at that flag waving enticingly at the far end of that beautiful fairway. An old Jesuit priest gave me this wisdom once: “Yesterday was history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift – that’s why we call it the present.”