Golf And Zen – Chapter 3
About Golfing Zen: This is the third in a continuing series of short essays dealing with the application of Eastern spiritual philosophy to your golf game.
The surface intent is that, as you apply the ideas, your golf and your enjoyment of the game will grow. However there is also an underlying motive: as you are able to see gains on the course, you’ll then be moved to alter your approach to life as well.
Today’s Topic: You Already Know
The fundamental objective of Eastern spiritualism is “enlightenment,” a complex idea, sometimes referred to as “waking up,” or “recovering from” the illusion.
The illusion —again simplifying — is the illusion of separation, of being something or someone distinct from, separate from, everything else that we see and experience. Remember, Easterners see reality as being one universal entity out of which everything emerges.
We are born into the illusion, and the search is to recover what we always knew: our true nature as an integral part of the universal consciousness. We already knew it… we’re trying to remember!
So… how does that relate to golf?
I would maintain that in a very similar way we already know what we need to know about golf. We simply forget… or we refuse to acknowledge the facts that are there, right in front of us.
How can I say that? How can I suggest that a 20-handicapper knows? Isn’t golf this terribly difficult and subtle game? Isn’t it beyond most of us… at least beyond our ability to excel?
That would certainly seem to be the case. Statistics — year after year — show that 90% of us have handicaps over 10, and a whopping 60% are over 18. The numbers don’t lie… clearly we don’t know. Or is really that we don’t remember? That we don’t act on what we know?
I maintain the latter, and here’s why…
Golf is not a hand-eye coordination game. Games where the ball and/or the player are moving — tennis, baseball, ping-pong, etc. — are hand-eye games. Golf, on the other hand, is a repetition game: the ability to repeat a specific motion, reliably and under pressure.
Said even more strongly, golf is not a skill game. After all, it doesn’t take any great skill to hold the club correctly, to stand up to the ball with correct posture and alignment. All it takes is paying attention, paying attention to what we already know (as anyone who has played for any time at all has read or been told the basic fundamentals). Further, if we know how to hold the club and stand up to the ball, is it a difficult and illusive task to move smoothly to the top-of-the-backswing position? Given that one doesn’t have a physical handicap of some type, the answer is obviously a resounding “no.” It’s inescapable… we must obviously choose not to do so.
Here’s the most obvious example. We all know that balance is part of the game; that being able to swing to a balanced finish position on our front (leading) leg is a fundamental. If we open our eyes at all, we see that every skilled player — 100% — does that every single swing.
But go to any golf course or driving range and watch. True to the single-digit statistic quoted above, you’ll see that 90% of us don’t hold a balanced finish, and most of us are falling backwards. How do we expect to move the ball forward when we’re falling back?
The conclusions are inescapable: the fundamentals of golf are right in front of us; the skills required are well within most or all of us. We know, but we don’t do. We forget to remember! Worse, we choose to forget.
If true —and it is — it begs a simple question: