What I Learned on the Golf Course
As an avid golfer I often reflect on the parallels of the sport and in living.
I have found that when I apply what works on the golf course to my life, I am happier and more fulfilled and in a much better position to be successful. Take for instance the importance of keeping your head down and eye on the ball when you strike it. This reminds me to stay in the here and now, which is about being calm and present in life. Following the ball after I hit it just dooms me for a miss-hit or a shank, just as getting ahead of myself in my thoughts and actions brings on anxiety. If I am more relaxed and trusting myself when I swing the club or putt, then I am more apt to make better decisions for myself and use better judgment when I apply those same concepts in life.
In life we can be filled with negative thoughts and self-doubt or with a “can-do” attitude and positive thoughts which results in success or failure.
Where the ball goes depends so much on what I am thinking. Sometimes when I doubt that I can make a shot, then, of course, I make an errant shot. If I approach the ball with confidence and believe I can make it, then I usually do. Also, when I hit a bad shot I try to figure out what I did so I can correct it. I then let it go…no sense beating myself up or holding on to shame. The same is true when I hit a good shot. I give myself a silent pat on the back (or sometimes not so silently,) and then I let it go…all we have is that one shot. It is important to not live in grandiosity. I pull myself up from shame or self-criticism and bring myself down from grandiosity. Never good to be in the “one-up” or “one-down” position with golf or with anyone in life. One shot at a time, one day at a time, and sometimes, depending on the day, it is one hour at a time.
If we have a solid foundation, good self-esteem, then we are more freed up to take a nice full swing.
The golf swing also requires that the lower body be kept still. If you move around too much or sway you will miss the shot. By keeping the lower body still then the upper body gets to swing through. For some people that may mean taking more risks in life, trusting that you can let go and you will hit a beauty. Being grounded in life and having balance frees us up for more creativity and fun! Nothing better than keeping my head on the ball, having a firm stance, and trusting that if I follow through toward the target then when that club head hits that little white ball, it will be like butter…it will all click together and “it” (you) will soar!
Etiquette on the golf course is the "social skills" in life.
And finally, golf is about rules, etiquette and playing well with others. Rules are the structure we need to be more spontaneous, more creative, and have more fun. Being patient, tolerant, not giving advice, and not being controlling or critical - these behaviors offer grace, kindness, positive reinforcement and encouragement, even if we are in competition. It is accessing both the feminine and masculine parts of ourselves.
Please feel free to contact me if you have other thoughts about how golf is a metaphor in your life.
Recommended books: Zen Golf, by Dr. Joseph Parent and The Spirit of Golf, by M. Scott Peck.