The Metaphysics of Golf

Golf? Metaphysics? Aren’t the two terms incompatible concepts? Perhaps if one has in mind the stereotypical exclusive private club notion of golf. But golf as with any human activity can be viewed within a deeper context of human behavior and  human relations.

Essentially all sports look ridiculous to the outsider who doesn’t truly ‘get it’. Name one sport is more ‘rational ‘  than another.  Most involve balls of some shape or size propelled through the air, caught, hit or batted in some direction or another.

I view golf as an incredibly frustrating challenge that encourages one to stick to it, to persist despite frequent failure and to maintain an irrational, even nonsensical optimism that the next shot will be great! And often that fantastic shot [all too rare] produces a euphoria which defies description.  Because golf, like life, is extremelydifficult,  when success does occur, it is highly cherished.

There is a particular level of comraderie that can occur in golf unlike other sports. This is because of the nature of golf: the players only indirectly compete against each other.  They are actually competing against themselves and the golf course.  I cannot affect the performance of another golfer directly. I can indirectly ‘psyche them out’ if I am playing well and they are not.  But I cannot touch them, or their ball.

On a recent golf trip with three close friends, there was an atmosphere of closeness and emotional support which is truly rare among adult men. One of the four had just lost his mother-in-law.  His wife was having a difficult time with her mourning period and felt ambivalent about her husband’s golf trip.  He also felt ambivalent about going but saw it as a release for his own stress.

The three of us rallied around our friend, supporting his decision to play, reminding him of his devotion to his wife and deceased mother-in-law.  Now someone more objective might or might not find his actions defensible. My point is that men rarely deal with each other on such a deep emotional level.

Our closeness was rare but powerful.  Like hitting a pure golf shot, the expression of love for one person to another is a thing of great beauty.

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