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  • Writer's pictureNathan

The Secret of Golf

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

On the first day of golf lessons at their local club, the youth students waited for their instructor, who would be late to arrive. At last, a man who came plainly dressed in casual clothing strolled up to the group. Gathering their attention, the man began his introduction.

“Thank you all for being here. As your teacher, it will be my honor to refine your skills and enhance your knowledge of this wonderful game.

"To begin, I must let you in on a little secret. There are some who think that the objective of golf is to sink a small, white, dimpled ball into a hole of a lawn with as few strokes as skill allows.

“This is wrong. There is a hidden objective for which we do not have a name. It is an obscurity that the swing, the ball, and the count of strokes do not matter. Instead, they are superfluous but necessary elements to provide a distraction from the concealed goal.

“The veiled ambition of play while on the course is instead to bring thorough composure to your full being, to let yourself become a cool breeze or a warm fireside song. There is not a word adequate for this, but we can allow such notions as serenity, contentedness, and mindfulness to be our descriptive placeholder.

“Remain in this way—supple heart full of compassion—until the ball finds its destination. The motion of the swing, the will of the ball, and the count of the strokes will improve all their own until, in time, a mastery of the art can be performed with ease.

“The beauty of golf’s concealed, intimate objective can also be played in every one of life’s grand games in which a club and ball are not required, but otherwise can be played with a broom for tidying, a conversation with a friend, a trail map, or a cup of tea. Do not simply play the game of golf. Play the grand game of life. Play it with ease.”

Just as the teacher concluded his introduction, a new fellow rushed to the group in a fluster, dragging behind him a bag of clubs. With greasy streaks of sweat mixed with freshly applied sunscreen, this man came outfitted as one would expect a golfer to be—collard shirt, pleated dress shorts, visored hat, spiked shoes with long diamond patterned socks.

At this newcomer’s appearance, the first teacher gave a shallow bow to the class before turning to depart.

“Please excuse my late state,” said the sweaty man, panting for air. “Car trouble.” After a moment to catch his breath, he spoke again, “I will be your new golf instructor. Who was that other guy?”

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