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Understanding Golf

By Jared Erving

Mark Twain famously quipped, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Truth be told, for a decent portion of the population golf is a boring sport and for another decent portion golf is an important part of life. Some may say it’s a philosophy of life in action. While on the surface it looks like someone is merely hitting a ball, there is so much more to the centuries-old game. Golf is about a state of mind, not just the ability or technique of striking the ball with the purpose of putting it in a 4 1/4 inch hole.

When on the golf course one can easily forget one is in a city. Everything outside the course is out of mind, and your focus is on your game and the objective — making par or better. Just like in all aspects of life, if you allow an outside problem to affect your mental state negatively, your game and technique (ability to strike the ball with purpose) will be just as bad.

A player must think positively, play calmly and strike smoothly; it is required that you leave deprecation, deny agitation and remove hesitation. Considering the level of complexity and challenge that is a part of golf, leaving your problems and frustrations from the outside world off the course is key to having a pleasant or successful round.

For many players it is this aspect of the game that can create peace of mind. You can be in the middle of the city, straight out of work or class, and still feel thousands of miles away from all your problems once you walk on the course. One of the hardest parts of the mentality that every golfer needs to come to terms with is that there is no human adversary but yourself. You may be trying to score better than your opponent. But you are truly playing against yourself and the course.

Arnold Palmer once said, “Golf is deceptively simple, endlessly complicated. A child can play it well, and a grown man can never master it. Any single round of it is full of unexpected triumphs and perfect shots that end in disaster. It is almost a science, yet it is a puzzle without an answer. It is gratifying and tantalizing, precise and unpredictable. It requires complete concentration and total relaxation. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time, rewarding and maddening. And it is without doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”

This semester I joined the golf team at SMCC, and while I love the sport and want to inform the SMCC community about our struggles our successes on the course in YSCC, I look forward to sharing the unseen aspects of golf.

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