I started Practical Golf for two reasons - I want to help you all improve as golfers, but more importantly, I want you to enjoy the game more.
Improvement comes in many different forms - technique, the mental game, strategy, playing the right equipment, and a few other topics. However, I don't think you will make much progress in any of those areas if you are not enjoying your time on the course or on the practice range.
I wanted to write this article as a reminder to everyone (and myself) that golf is a truly special game. It is really a privilege to get to play it, and there are so many reasons why it can be a positive influence in your life. Despite that, many of us get stuck in negative cycles because this game is difficult, and our expectations get out of control sometimes.
Let this article serve as a small reminder for why you play this game.
Golf is the Tie That Binds
I have absolutely nothing in common with most of the people I play golf with. Some of them are more than twice my age, have a completely different set of interests outside of golf, and we would never meet under any other circumstances. Despite that, we are able to bond over our common love of the game during the 4-5 hours we play together.
We talk about our families, current events, sports, and most of all golf. After our time is up we go our separate ways, and sometimes we'll never meet again. To me, there is something special about that experience that I don't think you can get from many other activities.
There is a unique camaraderie amongst golfers because we know what the game means to us, and we also know the special set of challenges and joys that the game can deliver. In a recent tournament, my playing partner and I likened it to a miniature battle against ourselves and the course, and that there was nothing else like it out there.
Simply put, golf can be a powerful way to unify people. In a time where that seems to be in short supply, I believe that is one of the single most important things about this game, and we should all try to take a step back once in a while to cherish that.
It is a Lifetime Pursuit, and There Are Plenty of Lessons to Learn
When I was ten years old I took some old golf clubs out of my grandmother's garage and headed across the street to a schoolyard. For about an hour I tried to figure out how to get the ball into the air, and eventually, I connected one of my swings. That feeling of perfect contact was so powerful and amazing - I didn't know it at the moment but it started a lifelong pursuit of golf.
Fast forward 25 years later, and my love and devotion for this game are deeper than they've ever been. There have been times where I've wanted to quit and hated my time on the course. I've been around plenty of golfers who have gone through the same spells.
Along the way, I've learned a lot from my own experiences and watching others. I have shared a lot of those lessons with you on this site, and it's been wonderful to hear from many of you who have taken that new perspective and improved your game. I could write an entire book about how golf has taught me important lessons about life, but if you are willing to pay attention there is plenty to pick up from the course.
Golf requires patience, control of your emotions, critical thinking, grit, determination, and a host of other traits.
I've always felt that I was battling my own flaws as a human during a round. When I conquered them and played well, it felt great. When I succumbed to my temper, impatience, and other negative emotions it was the opposite.
It has been hard work, but I have tried my best to conquer that side of me. While you never completely win the battle, I can look back at the golfer that I used to be compared to the golfer that I am now. I have made serious progress on those flaws.
The little extra bonus is that I strongly believe that has made me a better father, husband, son, and friend. That's because golf is an amazing reflection of life, and I think that's pretty cool. You never conquer it, but you can certainly spend your whole lifetime trying to be better.
There are so Many Ways to Enjoy This Game
Don't let anyone ever tell you that there is one way to enjoy this game. Most of us play because we want to lower that score at the end of the round, and we spend thousands of hours chasing our own tails to make that happen. That's all well and good, but that's not the only way to play golf.
At my course, I see many different types of golfers. There are ultra competitors playing pressure-packed matches. There are the husband and wife enjoying a late afternoon nine while the sun is setting. There is a 93-year-old man who is still able to walk the course almost every day. There are juniors starting to learn the game.
These are all different kinds of people getting something different out of the game. For some, it's a leisurely pursuit just to enjoy time outdoors with their friends or spouse. For others, it is an intensely competitive game that demands deep devotion on and off the course.
That's the great thing about golf - if you can find a way to truly enjoy it on your own terms then you've got it made for the rest of your life. I encourage you to think about what that is going to be for you.
This is a Great Game
I'm going to tie the knot on this sappy love letter to golf now. If you are someone who has lost their way in this game, I hope this little essay will remind you of a few things and hopefully alter your perspective for the better.
Some people worry about the future of golf, but to be honest I believe this game will always have a place in certain people's hearts. That's because when it latches on to you, it is very hard to let it go because of everything I have written about here. Golf is a lifelong pursuit that connects us to one another and can have deep meaning in our lives. It certainly has for me, and I hope everyone reading this will have the same experience.