It was through acknowledgment and gratitude for the game of golf that I was able to connect with myself, by relearning the value in being authentically me and pursuing what I love in life without constraint.
Golf is a microcosm of life. It is a game that is played with oneself and where others can join. Golf is a true teacher of character, mindset and spirit. To learn how to enjoy golf and not give up, is like learning the wisdom to enjoy life (finding the new you) and not surrender to the hardships along the way.
For those of you, women and girls who relate to golf, you will probably attest to this truth – to play golf is like playing the game of life. For those readers who have never played, I invite you to become curious enough to watch a game on television. It is a beautiful sport that can be played at any age and in any country. Golf inevitably opens doors to a network of people who are passionate and alive with purpose. Golf is a man’s best friend – but for my grandmother and me, it has always been a woman’s best friend. Although this game is what has always united us, as grandmother and granddaughter, it is through our playing the game in itself that we found our new selves each time.
To learn how to play golf you need to be willing to have patience with yourself, time, desire, and focus while on the course. In order to play golf, you must be willing to be flexible with your body and mind, as you learn the timing of your takeaway swing and surrender into the feeling of your hands as you let the head of the club release forward on your follow through without holding back and let gravity do its thing. To continue playing the game you need to build mental strength, spiritual endurance, emotional stability and physical stamina – through persistence, confidence and courage. There are multiple times when you will want to quit and walk off the course, but you just can’t, because that’s not how you’ll ever learn to play the game. There is a lot of pressure to perform in golf, which naturally forces one to block out the “external noise” and learn to connect with the ball alone. Golf will make you face many set-backs on each hole and in each round; it is an ever-evolving process. This game can never be fully conquered – if only by select few Masters.
Golf is an addicting sport, I suppose because of its challenging nature both in and off the course. It is a game for those who strive to be better each and every time they play, no matter the conditions. Golf is for those who dare to learn the true feeling of alignment and who embrace being pushed to the next level of their game by continuously making changes to their game, mindset, physique and attitude.
Although you can start learning golf with technical guidance, you don’t fully enjoy it until you can feel your way through the course. What the game offers you is the ability trust yourself by applying your own knowledge to your own game. Golf is for those who want to learn more about themselves through gaining skills and traits that are the pillars of this sport and are applicable to everyday life. Golf is a game for passionate hearts, who dare to be vulnerable in front of others and who learn to become humble with each and every shot – for nothing is guaranteed and there is no such thing as a perfect game. Rarely will your game ever just flow. When it does feel natural and smooth, you will face a set-back. It is a game that loves to remind you that you are not in full control, there is always more to learn.
Golf, at its best, is the most rewarding and fulfilling game one could imagine playing throughout life. It keeps the player hungry for more after each shot is hit, after each putt is sunken into the hole and after each round of 18 holes is completed. You are one with nature when on the course; you meet all kinds of interesting people who have the same desire to strive for better; you exercise your mental muscles and exhaust your body. Your psyche is touched after every shot and you are forced to learn how to dominate it, because if you don’t, your mind will dominate your game.
In golf, one often finds themselves reinventing their own game. When caught in the woods, sand traps or water, one is confronted with making game changing decisions. As a player, you are forced to take a stance every time you get behind the ball, literally and figuratively. Behind the ball is where the brain thinks and decides what the line is for hitting the ball closer to the hole. Behind the ball you have the opportunity to make the vital decision of – either to keep going in the same direction or readjust your line by stepping back and realigning your stance and game plan. Sometimes you have to hit the ball backwards or chip it to the side, to then possibly move forward towards the hole. Once you choose your line, you take your stance beside the ball and let the body do the work. Trusting your swing’s tempo, the line you envisioned and keeping your head down – you release all technical strategies. Through your confidence, mental stillness, focus and alignment, you learn to flow.
Golf is the only sport where stillness prevails. It is the only game where the ball and your feet are still. There is only one constant in a person’s game, which is in their swing – it’s your tempo, your style, your flow. When your swing is “off”, everything else just doesn’t matter. There is not enough strength in your shot, no technology in your clubs, and no acquired knowledge that will get your ball in the hole – it’s all about how well you can flow again. Flow, as my grandmother would define it, is all about the rhythm and timing. The key to golf is making your flow consistent, reliable and smooth because everything else is constantly changing – the technology of your equipment, your strategy, the position of your feet, the distribution of your weight, and the placement of your head and hands.
Life’s game of awakening or connecting with one’s inner-self demands you to step back, reassess yourself by looking at your qualities and tendencies, how you perceive the world and how the world perceives you. It is a game that requires patience, time, focus, stillness, more heart and less head – just like golf. To play golf well, you need to become acutely self-aware on the course. In golf, self-awareness can be regarded as having a deep understanding of where your ball lies and in tune with what could get you into trouble or back into a safe zone – also known as the fairway. Oftentimes, lack of self-awareness on the course can be seen as your negative state of mind, your arrogance and impatience, your temperament, your limiting self-beliefs, your lack of clarity from distraction, and restrained creativity to reinvent your game when the circumstances require it. On the other hand, being awake and self-aware on the golf course can bring you great pleasure, sense of fulfillment and even some rewarding medals, too.
On the course, self-awareness translates into knowing our weaknesses as well as our strengths. To know our capabilities as well as our boundaries. By being in tune with our game and with nature (seen in the weather, the design of each hole and its conditions), we know what club to use, when to use it and if we have to make adjustments like taking one club more or less, or if we decide to choke on the shaft, shift our grip, open or close the club face or change the position of our hands to be in front of the ball or behind. We are able to make these adjustments because we see where we want the ball to go, and no matter what the strategy we choose is, there are always tweaks that need to be made along the way. We can make the adjustments only when we are in a state of stillness, concentration, clarity, serenity, alignment and surety. We choose our line, our stance and mindset as we approach the ball. The moment comes to hit the ball and with perfect alignment and inner connection to our mind, body and spirit, we are able to hit the ball with the greatest of impact – in the sweet spot. It feels effortless. It feels like bliss. What keeps us going is the inner-knowing that those sweet shots exist.
We Keep Going, until we hit more of those shots and feel them more consistently. That is what the awakened state of being is – fluid, natural and unrestrained purity. When you experience the feeling of alignment, you recognize it and you savor it, you can’t help but want to feel it more – and so you begin to seek new ways to get into alignment and sustain the feeling of freedom, bliss, connection and untethered flow of energy running through your body, mind and soul. When your energy is in flowing you are in sync. When you are flowing, your swing is in sync with your game.
Golf has also taught me that I can rise up from anything. I can recreate myself and that nothing is stagnant. Each time I have to take my stance to hit the ball, I get the chance to choose and decide how to play that shot. I choose new thoughts, new habits and vision. I decide to look forward because that’s where the hole is. I choose to never look back. That is how I learned to Keep Going. Unfortunately, it is in the mistakes and in the suffering that I have learned to play golf. It’s the working of the trials that has helped me build my trust and endurance and to play my game – the game of life.
Golf has taught me the power behind reinventing myself and discerning for myself how I want to play. I learned to apply new methodologies and formulas on the course to improve my game. I had to begin with changing how I feel, building my confidence, before I could really unfold and reveal my talent for playing well. The analogy of golf is applicable to my life in all realms. By understanding how similar golf is to life, I have learned to play and flow throughout my life and take life as it is – a game of reinventing myself each day.
Playing golf has really been my greatest modality for healing. I learned the greatest lesson of all – to trust myself, confide in my talents and my ability to navigate the course and life, itself. On the golf course, I cultivated the characteristic of resiliency – the mindset to Keep Going!