Zen and the Art of Golf

Angry Golf

Angry Golf

I’m always being told that playing golf (like photography for that matter) requires a certain Zen frame of mind. I’m beginning to understand that, and I’m beginning to allow myself to enjoy the game, in spite of all the slices, shanks, three and four putts, or lost balls. There’s a course near where we live that’s both beautiful and difficult, where going after an out-of-bounds ball might mean rappeling into a canyon or coming face-to-face with a rattlesnake. I’ve had to hit around large bucks and coyotes lounging in cool, grassy areas next to fairways. Once, I witnessed a bobcat trot past me down the cart path toward the clubhouse. And yet…..the game, or how well one plays the game, can get under the skin. More than once, I’ve heard other players’ loud expletives echoing throughout the hills. Sometimes those expletives have been mine. I’ve seen other players throw clubs, but I’ve never seen the results of someone breaking a club over a tree trunk, until recently. Angry golf is not fun, and it’s the furthest one can get from a Zen state of mind. The day I found this broken club was during one of my best games, a game where I was able to stay in that Zen place from the first hole to the eighteenth. So, I keep this image to remind me of the importance of maintaining a certain level of detachment, something useful in other areas of life as well. But on the golf course, I’m reminded of Kevin Spacey’s character in the film American Beauty, who says “It’s hard to stay mad when there’s all this beauty in the world.”

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