Approaching the age of 50, I took up the game of golf.
Improvement came quickly, first breaking 80, then breaking par only one year after getting hooked and increasing my frequency of play to twice per week! My handicap dropped to 4 in my first two years then reached 2 in four years. I eventually reached a low index of 1.4 with a low round of 68. And just last year I got my 4th Ace!
I accomplished this without taking lessons or focusing on technology or technique. Instead, I approached the game creatively, learning to improve my inner game and discover my natural swing. I pursued the game of golf as art.
Although I didn't pursue lessons, many golfers helped me along the way. I've included links below to introduce those who helped or inspired me to play this game more artfully, hoping they inspire others as well.
As I stood on the 176-yard par 3 13th tee at San Luis Rey Downs, I turned to Matthew, the 13-year-old son of a friend in my foursome. Without thinking, I asked, "have you ever seen a hole-in-one?" He answered no. So, I replied, "watch this." I then teed up my Callaway, hit a nice little 6-iron and watched it draw right towards the flag. I could tell it had landed close to the hole, but a front-side bunker hid the ball from sight. We figured I'd have an easy tap-in birdie, but I just I had this feeling! As we approached the green, we didn't see my ball. Maybe it went over the back of the green? With great anticipation, Matthew ran up and looked in the hole. I'll never forget the look on his face when he saw my ball sitting at the bottom!
Six months after picking up the game, I met a local yoga instructor who is a friend of Fred Shoemaker. He recommended that I read Fred's book, Extraordinary Golf. I did. The very next day I shot a round of 76! His book transformed how I approached the game and who I am on the course. He taught me how to become aware of my swing, to be free of fear and swing freely, and to remain open to the possibility that this shot and this round could be extraordinary. I often drift back to my old self, but a quick re-read always gets me back on track. I later had the privilege of playing golf with Fred at Bandon Dunes. He's as extraordinary a person as he is a golfer.
While reading Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy, a novel in which the game is revealed by Shivas Irons as a doorway to the mysteries of life and a path to self-discovery, I discovered the Shivas Irons Society. I learned that an upcoming event was scheduled nearby and signed up. I found myself paired with the society's founder, Steve Cohen. Steve started the society in 1992 in response to the tremendous popularity of the novel. I've since attended additional SIS events to meet others drawn to golf for its opportunities for community, discovery and transformation and who share a love of the game and a respect for golf's deeper dimensions.
Aidan Bradley | Ari Techner | Arnold Haultain | Bert LaMar | Bob Fagan | Brad Johnson | Byron Kalies | Cameron Strachan | Carey Mumford | Charlie King | Charlotte McGinnis | Christopher Smith | Colin Cromack | Colin Sheehan | Dan Millman | Darrin Gee | David Cook | David Lee | David MacKenzie | David Scaletti | David F. Wright | Dylan Dethier | Edward Balian | Erik Anders Lang | Evan Schiller | Fred Greene | Fred Shoemaker | Geoff Shackelford | Gio Valiante | Grayden Provis | Graylyn Loomis | Ian Andrew | Jesse Ortiz | Jim Delaby | Jim Waldron | Joann Dost | Joe Parent | John Boyne | John Dunn | John Graham | John Richardson | Jon Fitzgerald | Jon Leland | Jon Stabler | Josh Heptig | Joshua CF Smith | Kapil Gupta, M.D. | Kendal McWade | Kevin Murray | Kris Barkway | Larry Berle | Linda Harttough | Lorne Rubenstein | Luke Brosterhous | Lynn Marriott | Marci Diehl | Mark Guadagnoli | Mike Maves | Michael Hebron | Michael Murphy | Mike Pederson | Nancy Barber | Neil Sagebiel | Nick Bayley | Nick Green | Nick Madgett | Pat Gallagher | Paul Eales | Peter Beames | Peter Nomm | Pia Nilsson | Ran Morrissett | Randy Friedman | Reid Sheftall | Rob Rigg | Sandy Tatum | Scotty Cameron | Scott Clark | Scott Wilson | Sean McCue | Shawn Clement | Stephen Altschuler | Steve Cohen | Steve DeWalle | Steve Goodwin | Steven Pressfield | Terence Loose | Terry Koehler | Tim Gallwey | Tim Kremer | Todd Rohrer | Tom Collins | Tom Doak | Tom Watson | Will Smith | Top 100 Golfer
When you disappear, Golf as Art shows up. The resulting void is where all the important discoveries, personal development, satisfaction, joy and fulfillment take place.
Swing motion at its highest level is the uninterrupted flow of natural rhythm from within.
Your enemy is expectation. Your ally is detachment. The game isn't the process, the game is the dream.
A great golf shot is a thing of beauty. Repeating it is an art.
Golf is performance art and there's no right and wrong in art. You're free to play however you want.
Where is the one for whom golf is an exploration into himself? Where is the one who understands that the craft is not a science, but pure art? Where is the one who realizes that there is no particular way? Where is the authentic golfer?
–Kapil Gupta, M.D.