Golf: Self, Faith, Religion

It’s just you, and this small little white ball next to your feet. Hundreds of yards away, a flag rustles as the wind goes past. There is no momentum, there is no direction, there is no energy. You address the ball, and swing freely. The little ball flies towards a distant target, lands, and rolls out a couple yards or so. Maybe it’s on a green, maybe a fairway, maybe a bunker.

Why do we play the game of golf?

For me, golf is a mirror. Each day, I have some skill, some ability. In order for me to perform at my best (for that day), I need to look in the mirror and be honest with myself about what I have that day. If I try to bite off more than I can chew, than it is perhaps more likely that I will fail. Even if I don’t have my A-game on a day, perhaps even my C-game, the more honest and open I am with myself about what I bring to the table, the better I perform. It teaches risk management. It teaches honesty. It teaches integrity. It teaches responsibility and forces us to own up to our mistakes.

You take in as many outside inputs as you choose to, and then you take in inside inputs (your own ability). From there, you draw up a plan. Once you have this plan, you have to execute the plan. Sometimes you have a great plan, and you fail to execute. Sometimes you execute your plan perfectly - but your plan is flawed. Sometimes, you execute a bad plan poorly, and get lucky.

At the end of the day, my round is over, and no one actually cares what my score was. Notice in all of the above, I didn’t actually talk about golf specifics at all, because golf isn’t about a little white ball. Golf is about life, golf is about identity, golf is about character. Golf is about looking in the mirror and seeing what life holds for you today, and it’s about learning how to do that every single day.

It’s hard to look in the mirror and admit faults. It’s hard to admit “I’m not happy in life”. It’s hard to admit “I made a mistake”. Through golf, we learn how to confront these difficult emotions in the rest of our lives. Through golf, we become better people.

Golf is not about golf. Golf is about gamifying reflection and personal growth. Golf takes life’s hard questions, and makes them easier to think about.


Thoughts? Why do you play?

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My answer is in here. Sorry to be a smartass. Why Do You Love Golf?

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i just read all of this in EAL voice in my head

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I wish I could cultivate your attitude, but my reason for playing is closer to an addiction, and it’s probably the reason I can’t seem to get any better. I love that feeling of a well struck shot, seeing a drive sail far down the fairway, but when my game isn’t working, which is often, I find it hard to step back and remind myself how good my life is and how lucky I am to be playing a game instead of 1000 less enjoyable things.

I find reasons to get frustrated: slow play, bad bounce, blown approach after a great drive. These things are mental poison, yet I fixate on them. A dozen swing thoughts join me on the tee, and yet I’m surprised every time I see my ball slicing left off the planet.

I know I have to let all these things go, but the engineer in me wants to fix my faults all the time. It’s a work in progress, but it’s hard to make any headway. Bit of a ramble, but it’s not an easy question. Thanks for making me think hard about it.

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thank you for your service.

@nandersen

broke%20my%20heart

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so as for the reason i posted this thread - I spent 10 days in early june in israel, away from the game of golf, doing birthright. very involved trip, very heavily discussion of spirituality and how one finds religion in daily life (not necessarily in a religious context). through a combination of discussion of why i like playing golf with my israeli friends (to them, golf is just a high class w/e game) and how i think about myself, i came to this answer and narrative about what golf is to me.

This is a wonderful thread idea (despite the word spiritual.) I have been very trigger-shy to start a thread on Golf & Faith. But it needs to happen. “Why do you play” thread doesn’t connect the game and Creator the way they are so deeply intertwined to many of us.

My daughter goes to a Christian school and I coached the team there largely because I knew I could talk honestly with the kids about how faith and golf are connected without getting slapped with a lawsuit.

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I’m a believer in Jesus Christ. I struggle with God. I have fought doubt as long as I can remember. I think that doubt has made my faith stronger.

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This seems like an appropriate place to plug my favorite golf book.

I’m trying to zero in on your shtick meter right now.

I’ve renamed the thread, Laz. I think it’s also important that this thread doesn’t just turn into a view of Christianity and golf, but rather more religion more abstractly.

As a Jew, a big piece of our faith is that we don’t have to believe, or even if we do, there isn’t necessarily a single right way to believe. And for my entire life, I haven’t believed in God. However, after hours of discussions on this topic in Israel (and with my mother when I got back, who I found out is actually very religious), I found a definition that I like.

I don’t believe in an omnipotent God, I don’t believe that there is a true direction for everyone. That being said, the definition I do believe is that God is a helping hand behind everyone. When things fall apart, eventually, at the end of the day (not a literal day), there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Everything will eventually be okay.

A simple way to think about this, is that after 18 holes, the round ends, and there will be another round in the future.

@Christian, For our golf team’s season ending banquet we played the movie. It’s a gawd awful movie- like terrible- but the message is great. See, Feel, Trust. What parallels.

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I agree that the movie is not good at all. The book is 10x better and I would highly recommend to any golfer. I recite “See it, Feel it, Trust it” in my head before every golf shot.

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Oh, to live in a world where we get to decide what happens to threads…

One thing has always amazed me; the insanely high percentage of high-level amateur and professional golfers who are openly Christian.

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How much of that is due to most high-level amateur and professional golfers being from the South, where you can play golf all year round?

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I think a big chunk of that goes into the demographics of the country, and the demographics of your typical CC kid.

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Most CCs are still predominantly single-faith as well, even up here in the Northeast.

Hmmm…Not so sure? But I’ll tell you that The College Golf Fellowship is a national group I respect a lot. This story about Matt Wolff was particularly interesting.

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Such a great piece. I attended a handful of College Golf Fellowship retreats while in college. Experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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I think there are a number of ways to unpack that, and while i am certain i lean way more agnostic than you do, but i think its safe to say hes at least a very good example, whether he’s the messiah or not.

It’s really refreshing to hear believers talk openly about doubt, i dont have any personal experience with that. My experiences with church have been mostly a bunch of people acting on sundays. I know it shouldnt effect my thoughts on the matter, but it does.

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