I suppose I should apologize to all of our golfers for my denigrating comments, including the Mark Twain quote about golf as a good walk spoiled. Those who choose to live close to golf courses as I have should be careful about making fun of it. I learned a when we rented the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” Golf movies can be amusing, like “Tin Cup,” or poignant and inspiring like “The Babe” [Didrickson Zaharias], but they don’t necessarily make you want to play the game. “The Legend” is downright spiritual, that is s-p-i-r-i-t-u-a-l. It makes me want to take back everything I said about golf.
I learned from the character Hardy Greaves that golf is “the only game I know where you can call a penalty on yourself, if you’re honest.” This the hero does, to his own disadvantage and credit. This the person of integrity does, in the honesty and integrity of regular self-examination and confession. No one will know, all of the sympathetic admirers say, as if one can hide from truth oneself and still be satisfied to win.
Or as Bagger Vance said, it is “a game that can’t be won, only played.” So the objective is to find your true swing and to become fully aware of the landscape. Such goals amount to a vocation, a calling. They amount to life itself., the race to be run, the path to be walked, the play to be acted, the game to be played. And the purpose is not to win, as if winning is a final achievement that can be possessed, but a certain quality to be experienced and shared with a good measure of consistency and submission along the way.
We do like to exaggerate the meanings of the things we invent and invest in, don’t we? Golf, baseball, etc. And yet in everything we do, when we do it with concentration and diligence, we do find meanings that surprise and enlighten us. Play golf then, or some other pastime that can become an obsession or a deliverance. Or watch movies, read, run, boat, play cards, dance, sing… and all those other things that have been denigrated from time to time, because they can get one “carried away.” Look inside at what happens inside when you do. And remember that “Bagger” will always be there, watching.