I dug my ball out of the deepest ditch, dropped it on some level green ground, and hit what felt like my twentieth shot on the ninth hole of our town golf course. Please pardon the hyperbole, as my performance was not quite that pathetic, but I did earn a legitimate ten on the Par Four. I was ready to quit the game, and threw a club or two up in the air.
What is it about golf that simultaneously aggravates and enthralls us? No matter how pitifully we perform at times, the courses can always count upon our return to them. A few days after my horrific round, I played again – with considerably less on my mind – and did significantly better. No, I didn’t shoot in the seventies, or even the eighties for that matter, but I felt pleased with my round and gratified to be back in the groove of my game.
Still good golf is fleeting, much like life, and should thus be embraced while it lasts. The success of my next round will depend upon a number of factors, some within human control and others far beyond it. In the past, I have found that my greatest golf experiences result from a healthy blend of mental clarity and physical effortlessness.
It is certainly challenging to sustain mental and physical wellness through eighteen holes, which can translate easily into a five hour round! The game requires a continuous recharging of mind and body batteries, which can become exhausted from overuse or underuse.
I am far from an expert in health and wellness – teaching English literature is my field – but I am convinced that golf fosters and furthers one’s well-being along with that of the wider world. It may sound simplistic, but more folks out on the course golfing could contribute to a healthier society and a more well-balanced world.
Considering the plethora of podcasts and publications out there on mindfulness and positivity, I am noticing a growing interest in the game of golf and overall wellness.
In my quest for data-driven research on the link between these two, I came across the nationally known therapeutic Fore Hope Organization, which operates within the OhioHealth Neuroscience Center. The groundbreaking group was founded five years ago by Mindy Derr to honor her father, Guy, who developed a disability while maintaining his passion for golf ("Wellness & Golf: Driving the Health Message of Golf Globally", golfandhealth.org) *. This example is just one of many, and I anticipate more discourse going forward on this topic.
Despite the deep ditch from which I struggled to extricate my shot and the intense frustration that resulted in thrown clubs, I will go back for more! The next time I tee off (later today, in fact!) I will do my best to take Greg Norman’s wondrous words to heart: “Happiness is a long walk with a putter.”
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