Being Present in Golf –
the Key to Enjoyment and Success
originally published in Caribbean Golf magazine
I recently had the pleasure of walking in mountains. The the air was pure and refreshing, the inherent peace of nature was thick and tangible. It reminded me of many experiences that I have had on golf courses, and made me realize just how much the physical setting of the game we love has a deep impact on us.
We play on the most beautiful of arenas. Some golf courses and holes simply take your breath away. They seem to be the perfect co-creations of God and the course architect, a wonderful combination of that which has always been there and that which has been added and shaped.
Even the most mundane of courses or holes can be transformed by Nature’s paintbrush: a sudden rain shower, early morning mist, thunderous clouds above or a powerful wind forcing its way through the trees. How fortunate we are to be a part of these landscapes.
Nature has it’s own pace yet it often seems there can be just too much pressure involved in golfing. Our tee-times are squeezed in between others, and it’s not always easy to feel relaxed when you have other golfers breathing down the back of your neck for three hours.
Personally I love playing when I can feel the sense of isolation (which is precisely what I love when walking in the mountains or forests). That can happen at any time of the day but early morning or late in the day are particularly special. Courses are generally quieter and at times it seems like the entirety of Creation is watching in anticipation as we play a stroke. These are moments when it is very easy for us to feel connected with everything, or put another way, the sense of separation melts into the pervading peace and we become part of a greater play.
And although it can be easier to transcend the mundane when things are quiet the truth is that the stillness is always there. But sometimes we just don’t experience it. We preoccupy over strokes when we’re not actually hitting them. It’s a funny thing, but our actual golfing takes up a very small part of the time we spend on-course. Mostly we’re between shots, either walking or waiting.
A bit like life, really – our day is filled with meetings, meals or tasks, but most of the time is taken up in the time between things. The problem (just like on the golf course) is that our attention isn’t fully present. Most of the time it’s on thinking about what we’ve done or are about to do. So, we actually don’t experience the bulk of our lives. Which is a great loss, for just like on those beautiful golf courses, many wonders await if only we would see them.
I’m probably telling you something you already know. “Be in the moment” we hear a lot, and although it seems like the simplest of things (and it is) it is also, paradoxically, one of the hardest because we are seemingly locked into this habit of having our attention in the past or future.
That is where having a technique can help. Through this website you can find out about the one that works for me, but the important thing is to allow yourself an opportunity to experience the fullness of what your life has to offer you.
I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why many of us are drawn to this game – because to play good golf demands that we are present. And being present feels fantastic, vibrant and alive. You can’t get that ball out of the sand and close to the flag if you are thinking about what is going on at work or at home.
Good golf demands your attention. Golf is like a jealous lover who punishes us if our attention or focus strays. But give it our full care and attention and, oh boy, what delights we can receive in return.