Golf And Zen – Chapter 3

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About Golfing Zen: This is the third in a continuing series of short essays dealing with the application of Eastern spiritual philosophy to your golf game.

The surface intent is that, as you apply the ideas, your golf and your enjoyment of the game will grow. However there is also an underlying motive: as you are able to see gains on the course, you’ll then be moved to alter your approach to life as well.

Today’s Topic: You Already Know

The fundamental objective of Eastern spiritualism is “enlightenment,” a complex idea, sometimes referred to as “waking up,” or “recovering from” the illusion.

The illusion —again simplifying — is the illusion of separation, of being something or someone distinct from, separate from, everything else that we see and experience. Remember, Easterners see reality as being one universal entity out of which everything emerges.

We are born into the illusion, and the search is to recover what we always knew: our true nature as an integral part of the universal consciousness. We already knew it… we’re trying to remember!

So… how does that relate to golf?

I would maintain that in a very similar way we already know what we need to know about golf. We simply forget… or we refuse to acknowledge the facts that are there, right in front of us.

How can I say that? How can I suggest that a 20-handicapper knows? Isn’t golf this terribly difficult and subtle game? Isn’t it beyond most of us… at least beyond our ability to excel?

That would certainly seem to be the case. Statistics — year after year — show that 90% of us have handicaps over 10, and a whopping 60% are over 18. The numbers don’t lie… clearly we don’t know. Or is really that we don’t remember? That we don’t act on what we know?
I maintain the latter, and here’s why…

Golf is not a hand-eye coordination game. Games where the ball and/or the player are moving — tennis, baseball, ping-pong, etc. — are hand-eye games. Golf, on the other hand, is a repetition game: the ability to repeat a specific motion, reliably and under pressure.

Said even more strongly, golf is not a skill game. After all, it doesn’t take any great skill to hold the club correctly, to stand up to the ball with correct posture and alignment. All it takes is paying attention, paying attention to what we already know (as anyone who has played for any time at all has read or been told the basic fundamentals). Further, if we know how to hold the club and stand up to the ball, is it a difficult and illusive task to move smoothly to the top-of-the-backswing position? Given that one doesn’t have a physical handicap of some type, the answer is obviously a resounding “no.” It’s inescapable… we must obviously choose not to do so.

Here’s the most obvious example. We all know that balance is part of the game; that being able to swing to a balanced finish position on our front (leading) leg is a fundamental. If we open our eyes at all, we see that every skilled player — 100% — does that every single swing.

But go to any golf course or driving range and watch. True to the single-digit statistic quoted above, you’ll see that 90% of us don’t hold a balanced finish, and most of us are falling backwards. How do we expect to move the ball forward when we’re falling back?

The conclusions are inescapable: the fundamentals of golf are right in front of us; the skills required are well within most or all of us. We know, but we don’t do. We forget to remember! Worse, we choose to forget.

If true —and it is — it begs a simple question:

Why?

For more information, check our podcasts, found at www.golfingzen.blogspot.com.

Next Time: Choosing To Remember.

Great Golf Solutions

Golf And Zen – Chapter 2

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About Golfing Zen: This is the second in a continuing series of short essays dealing with the application of Eastern spiritual philosophy to your golf game.

The surface intent is that, as you apply the ideas, your golf and your enjoyment of the game will grow. However there is also an underlying motive: as you are able to see gains on the course, you’ll then be moved to alter your approach to life as well.

Today’s Topic: The Fundamental Truth

In these articles, I’ll be simplifying as we talk about the Eastern philosophies, and this topic title is a good example. Buddhism actually opens its doors with The Four Noble Truths.

The first of those is that our experience is marked by suffering. Living means to suffer. The Eastern term is “dukka.”

The second shows the source of dukka to be desire, and the third shows how we can eliminate suffering; if it is desire that leads to suffering, then the obvious solution is to stop desiring. Obvious, sure, but we would agree it isn’t easy.

This doesn’t mean we stop living, that we give up work, play, relationships, learning and growth, or even that we forsake goals. It does mean we stop agonizing about it all. Some things we’ll never have. I won’t be the next Senator from Pennsylvania, and I’m not going to make the PGA tour. That’s obvious enough, but most of us continue to hunger after things that are permanently outside our grasp, without admitting it to ourselves.

Or, there are goals that we can eventually reach but that we don’t have this minute. I’d like to have a retirement home in Asheville, North Carolina. But I don’t, today, and if I obsess about it I can easily lose sight of the pleasures of my current life. It’s a fundamental: hungering after something not yet here contaminates our today.

So, the fundamental truth we’re talking about is this. Whatever we have today is everything we need – today.

The last of the Noble Truths lays out how to let go of desire: by following the Eightfold Path (understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration). But the Path a big subject and is for the future; I’ll certainly do a piece on each of those steps along the Path in future articles.

For now, the connection to golf is obvious to any of us that have suffered on the course. And who of us hasn’t suffered? Ever throw a club? Dress yourself down — either out loud or within your mind?

Beyond the momentary outbursts, is your enjoyment of the game in general contaminated by not being good enough? Are you reluctant to play with people that are better? Do you despair about lack of improvement? Do you think about giving up?

The First Noble Truth within Buddhism is equally true on the golf course; our golfing dukka comes from our excessive desire, from our grasping after success. And here’s the real secret… that comes from playing golf in an ego-driven state. If we’re playing to re-enforce our own ego — either to others or to ourselves — then we’re going to struggle.

The answer lies in a simple (granted, difficult) idea: we are, today, only what we are today; our swing is what it is; our mental game is what it is. Therefore — we’re perfect — today. We can let our self focus on the beauty of the walk in the park, on the companionship of friends. We can be alert, we can pay attention, we can be mindful of everything we see and experience, we can allow our game to be what it is, and we can trust that we’re on a path that will take us to higher levels as we continue move along. And that’s true!

I’ll be giving you lots of ‘tips’ or ‘thought exercises’ as we move through these articles, and here’s one that applies to this subject. You can reduce your grasping (and thereby, your golf-course dukka) by detaching for the outcome. Laird Small, the head pro at Pebble Beach, calls it “NATO: Not Attached To Outcome.”

Here’s one way of doing that. Your golf-course job is to swing the club in a graceful, rhythmic, and balanced way. The Golf God’s job is to move the ball to a new point, for your next test. Your job is only to be mindful of how well you perform your task and to then get out of the way and let the Golf God do his. Try that, next time out.

Next Time: You Already Know.

Great Golf Solutions

Golf And Zen

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About Golfing Zen: This is the first in a continuing series of short essays dealing with the application of Eastern spiritual philosophy to your golf game. (The title says “Zen,” but this discussion will apply equally to the other Eastern disciplines: Buddhism, Taoism, etc.)

The superficial intent (or benefit) is that, as you apply these ideas, your golf and your enjoyment of the game will grow. However, the underlying motive is, as you are able to see gains on the course, you’ll be moved to alter your approach to life as well.

Today’s Topic: ‘West’ versus ‘East’

Before we can dig into the details, we need to start with an over-view of how Eastern and Western thought differs, in the most fundamental of ways.

We Westerners are trained from birth to use our logical, analytical, conscious mind — our ‘three pounds of meat.’ From our earliest age we learn to name, to sort out, to categorize. We may not grow up to be scientists, but we learn to think according to the scientific method, and we worship at the feet of the great thinkers: Einstein; Newton; Steven Hawkings. In a very fundamental way, we learn to distinguish — to separate out —ourselves, our people, our places and things, and our beliefs… from everything else that is ‘out there.’

Eastern thought is the polar opposite. They attempt to quiet their active chattering mind, so that their inner subconscious can emerge. Through that practice, they come to see and believe in an underlying (and conscious) universal Whole, of which they are only a part. From that different perspective, life changes in very fundamental ways. One small example: The only logical approach to conducting my life is to focus on optimizing the whole of things. Since I’m not separate from the whole, if there is really only one person in the room, then how can I ever capture things for myself, at the expense of others?

How does this apply to golf?

The Western idea is that golf is a competition, both with the opponent and also with one’s self. The basic idea is to win, to defeat that other guy. As such, we practice, we study, we try (hard). At a very deep level, we play to re-enforce our ego, our sense of worth, to others and — most importantly — to ourselves. If we don’t play well, then we aren’t worth much.

Here again, the Eastern idea is the polar opposite. Winning and losing doesn’t make any sense (if there is only one person in the room) and the Easterner knows that he can’t force anything to happen through his own will. He knows that everything happens through the Whole, and so his approach to golf is to use it as a means of connecting with the Whole, to let the Whole move the ball through him. He allows his golf to happen, he doesn’t demand that it happen.

Next Time: You can’t aim, if you don’t have a target.

Great Golf Solutions

Golf and Fishing what have they got in common?

 

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Golf and fishing could not be more different but they both have something in common and that being is, how they give enjoyment and pleasure to all who participate in the sport. For most people they are hobbies and for others it is how they make their living. You can earn big money as a professional golfer. May I suggest if you do not play golf and think the sport is not for you then think again? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

If it is the Rupert bear yellow checked pants, red jumper and blue cap that deters you from venturing onto the green then do not let this put you off. This is a familiar trade mark of most players who are comfortable with the Disney look. You wear what you are comfortable with.

Golf has to be one of the most laid back relaxing and enjoyable sports out there; if a sport can excite and give pleasure throughout a whole game then need I say anymore.

Learning to play is a great experience and can be great fun; mistakes will be made and no doubt this will leave your fellow golf partners doubled over with laughter. It will be easier for you to understand why this game is one of the world’s most popular sports by joining in.

Fishing,

If you intend to take up angling in the sea make sure you are in a boat, as you do not want to end up bait for most big fish.

Another peaceful sport is fishing. Imagine yourself sitting on the river bank with your fishing basket at your side fully packed with sandwiches and a flask of piping hot coffee. And to make the day even more special are the sedate and scenic surroundings accompanied of course by a flowing river.

The beauty of fishing is the feeling it gives as i.e. not having a care in the world. A very rewarding sport when the fish start to bite.
Fishing can become an addictive sport or hobby where you never want to go home, what is so wrong in that I ask unless of course you have a wife and kids.

How to cast a baited rod like a professional is not as hard as you may think, the right guidance tips and advice from an experienced person in this field will prove to be the best move you could make in acquiring these skills for your self.

Kevin Brovold gave me the inspiration that was needed to fulfill my dream of becoming a pro with his Golf Magic tips on the sport.

Choosing which sport to take up may cause problems. Problem solved do both.

Great Golf Solutions