Real Golf

Topical Papers:  Real Golf

This was written prior to the 2nd Annual Courage and Freedom Cup Challenge as a response to Peter White who was commenting that, to him, stroke play was “real golf” and likewise, match play was “not real golf”.  I wrote the original response in an airport and had to cut it short to get to my flight.  I have since finished some of the thoughts…

I have been giving some thought to our discussion about real golf.  Not that my thoughts are complete, but that these are just some thoughts rumbling around.  Given that golf is a game that can never be won, only played, there is something about golf that is eternal.  In asking myself the question “what is real?” one of the things I have concluded is that eternal things are real – there may be other things, but I am confident that eternal things are real.

Thus, things like faith, hope, and love are real.  So also are courage and freedom, which is a part of the reason those words are in my daily battle reminder.  If the game of golf can only be played and never won (a match can be won, but not the game of golf) then what are the factors most important in the game?  Is counting your strokes important?  It is if you are playing in a competitive match, but once the match is over, does it matter? Maybe for a while it matters but it is probably not eternal (who cares who won or lost for eternity) – what is most important eternally is how you played the game and what you learned from the game as you played (there are eternal things to be learned from the playing of golf).  You can learn about yourself and others playing golf.  What you can learn about yourself, if you are awake enough to notice, can be things that are eternal, and thus real.  Am I playing with courage and freedom?  Do I have hope in my heart?  Am I in the present or am I living in the past or the future?  Do I have the very real possibility (from my heart) that the shot I am hitting could be a great golf shot?  Can I learn to trust the person God created me to be?  Can I learn that I am my own worst enemy on the golf course and in life and that if I could just get out of my own way and trust who God made me to be – I can play golf.

Who you are on the golf course, what you have inside of you that comes out on the course – is touching on reality.  It has nothing to do with your score – it has to do with your character and the eternal qualities that God is working into all of us.  Thus, maybe, just maybe – real golf has nothing to do with the score or how you determine the winner of a particular match.  It is good and the right thing to do your best (as unto the Lord).  A part of our inheritance in Jesus is a spirit of excellence; but the outcome of a particular match or round is just a step along the journey we have in becoming more like Jesus and learning to surrender ourselves to Him – for His glory.  Golf teaches us to have 100% focus on our intentions – and if we are really playing golf to also have 100% detachment from what happens after we strike the ball.  The process (how you play the game) is more important, in the end, than the outcome of the match (whether the round is played as match play or stroke play).

So – go forth in courage and freedom – awake and aware of what is happening in your golf swing, awake and aware of what is happening in life, and aware and awake to the Holy Spirit and what He is saying at the moment.  If I can live in the present on the golf course, if I can keep the possibilities open and ALWAYS have the possibility of a great golf shot (I am talking about the very real possibility that comes from deep within – from the heart) then I am touching reality.  I have much to learn but what I want to learn about are real things.