So here’s the thing about golf. It is, I think, above all other sports (and I am not getting into the debate about whether this is a sport or not, you know they televise Darts competitions – one hundred and EIGHTY – in England and they call that sport…I rest my case)…anyway….golf, I think, above all other sports lends itself to a perpetual optimism. Today is ALWAYS going to be the day, the greatest day, the day I break 80, the day I chip in from 100 feet, the day I shoot my longest ever drive, the day when I finally understand golf, when I get it.
And today is no different. It is Chinese New Year holiday here in Taiwan so my office is closed for the week and I am going to play some golf! And I woke up feeling good. Only golfers who have braved 4am mornings and long drives just to get to golf courses, or sat waiting for the break in the rain just say they can get out there to play. Surfers must have something of this feeling as they wait for that perfect break. Golf is about the permanent feeling of the great thing that is about to happen, and sadly, for us Amateurs often enough it is about that great thing not being realized (this time he says, optimism kicking in against all logic). Well TODAY I am feeling optimistic. I played well coming home on Saturday and I have the rare chance to play twice in one week (I am a twice a month golfer generally). This could be MY day. This again begs the question, “what if?”. What if by some momentous happenstance I actually break 80 on only my second game of the year…? Would that be the end of this blog? But I have so much more to give? And I haven’t signed the movie rights yet like Julie and Julia, and I don’t get invited to great parties like Harry Knowles. I am not a Blogger yet…
So I have decided, should it come to pass that I break 80 anytime sooner than the end of this year I will immediately set a new goal…do it again! Prove it wasn’t a fluke. And along the way continue to learn enormous amounts about myself and this great game of golf.
Without getting too Mr Miyagi on you sports, like life, are divided into two sides; Power and Patience, wax on and wax off, Yin and Yang. Power is for Basketball, Football, most Athletics. It is the focus of energy in a single moment; young people’s games where passion and power can conquer experience. Golf is not. Power helps but golf, like surfing, is about patience and control. You have to wait for that moment. For some games you have to work yourself into a frenzy of passion and then release that passion unfettered in a short continuous burst. The 100 meters dash is the perfect example of this. I ran track in high school. Fastest 400 I ran at age 16 was 49.3. I gave everything I had in that race; left nothing behind. Golf is about taking all of that passion, all of that anger, and NOT releasing it. (Contrary to gut feeling Boxing is a Zen sport, the moment you get angry in Boxing they tell me you have lost.) For years I was Angry Man playing golf, all spit and gristle, hitting some great drives occasionally but never any good scores. Living in Asia for about 20 years and being of Scottish heritage (Mum and Dad immigrated to Australia) I have heard the argument from my Chinese friends and colleagues that the Chinese, and not the Scots, invented Golf. I cannot believe it at all but as I think about the “success comes through no longer desiring it” Buddhist qualities of golf I am less inclined not to believe it; almost. But then I remember that the Scots are pretty Zen themselves and very good at creating impossible tasks with success never being the point, like golf, and I dismiss the fancy. Golf is really one of the Scots finest achievements.
And so to today. I have been to the driving range, had a good breakfast, am dressed in clothes that respect the course and about to head off for another optimistic round of a game designed to keep me from achieving success…and looking forward to it!
I’ll let you know how I get on…let’s see if I catch that big wave today.
Mr Miyagi out…