Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What's New?

Essay #5 — "Teaching versus Learning" — is new today (11/30)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A New Golf Blog.

Well, maybe not really new, but new to me, and it's unusual in several ways.

First, the blogger is a female which, I think, is in itself unusual. I'm a fan of Golf Chick, but this is the only other I know. Have I missed others out there?

Second, she doesn't play! Now, I'm sure that makes her unique.

But, last and best, she's got a keen eye and she writes well. Check her out at evenparround.blogspot.com.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What's New??

In case you're not checking the other pages (see the menu links)...

A new essay (Why We Forget?) went up on Thursday (11/24) and the companion podcast was posted today.

Also, there is a new Fortune Cookie as of today.

Finally - small commercial - I've been getting good reviews from readers of my golf/zen novel. If you haven't already, check the link to the publisher site and the review on www.weekend-golfer.com.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm Just Sprinting Through...

Yesterday (Sunday), I was out for my weekly round with my wife, and it was perhaps our last round of the year together, as the forecast is for rain on Monday/Tuesday and snow flurries by Thursday/Friday.

But, the day at hand was gorgeous... low 60's and a clear blue sky.


We got into a little trouble on #4 (I won't say who, but one of us went back and forth between traps for a while), and I was aware of a single, steaming up behind us. And so we sat on the bench beside #5 tee and waited for the fellow, to let him go through. As he hustled up, I waved him on and he thanked us by saying, "I'm just sprinting through so that I can get home in time to see the Eagles (Philadelphia football) get killed." And, he was true to his word as he whacked his ball and hustled away toward the green. Almost before we knew it, he was out of range.

Here's a test for you: how many lessons can you count in that statement? I count four.

First, has he not heard of modern technology? Certainly he has a VCR, if not a DVR? This was not a choice he had to make at all, yet he was choosing to rush home to sit through 90 minutes of commercials in order to see 90 minutes of live game action, if you count a lot of standing around as "game action."

Second, he's anticipated a loss and is letting fear contaminate the experience. (In the end he was right about losing, if not about "getting killed.")

Third (and most important), what did he do to his golf experience? He turned the whole thing into a "task"... one to be disposed of as quickly as possible in order to get on to something apparently more important. See this week's Fortune Cookie and ask yourself what he did to enhance his golf game, and/or to build a better foundation for his play in the future. But, he did accomplish his (erroneous) objective, as we could see him leaving the 9th green for the parking lot when we were teeing off on #8.

And... the fourth lesson. This is a good example of the fact that the Universe is responsive! I believe that, as you get clarity about what your purpose is, about what you intend to be, then the Universe sends you opportunities to live that purpose. In creating this mental golf blog, I've told the Universe that I intend to be about golfing zen. That guy, sprinting past me, was a gift from the Universe, sent as fodder for this post.

I hope you got as much out of him as I did.

(New today: Podcast #4. And, if you've had trouble getting the "listen here" link to work, I think I've solved the problem (a difference between how Apple and Windows works). If that's your case, please try again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What's New??

New today: A book review and the third in my essay series. Check the appropriate pages.

New earlier this week: a two-part podcast, posted Monday.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hilton Head... A Lesson... But No Golf.

As the title suggests, I traveled to Hilton Head this week, was not able to so much as touch a club, but absorbed a profound golf lesson anyway.

Actually, I received the lesson twice, and it seems to me that is often the way it goes. Once the Universe decides that a lesson is needed, It doesn’t trust me enough to send it a single time, or in a single form.

The first version came as an essay written by Roland Merullo. (I’m reading two of his books now — a golf novel and a collection of essays — that I’ll review in future postings.) The subject of this particular piece was anger on the course and how it inhibits our ability to play to our potential and, worse, contaminates the potential beauty of the experience.

We’ve all known angry golfers and have probably been one, on occasion, ourselves. I’m not the loud and visible variety; I’ve never thrown a club (very far) and my oaths are silent or muttered to myself. But I’ve seen some beauties. I once watched a person run pell-mell from a green more than 100 yards down a hill to throw his errant putter into a creek. And I’ve had to climb a barbed wire fence to search a cornfield for a partner’s driver.

The silent type of anger is more subtle but just as damaging. For me, it has been like a dark blanket that descends over everything and, with it, good golf becomes impossible. I’m forced to go on auto-pilot, grinding out one glancing blow after another with no hope of recovery, until I can finally drag myself off the 18th green. I’ve worked at it, and I’m better now, but I still can fall into ‘funks’ that are difficult to escape.

In his essay, Merullo makes a telling point: “Anger resides in the gap between the way the world is and the way we think it should be.” True enough, and a perfect summary of what happens to us on the course. We think we’re better than we’re showing and that we don’t deserve what is happening to us. Or, perhaps, we know we’re unworthy and are afraid that we’ve now disclosed to our partners the gap between what we really are and what we’ve just been pretending to be. Either way, Merullo’s anger model is a thought worth remembering when the darkness descends on us.

But, the essay was not enough for the Universe. I received a living example this past Friday at Hilton Head.

In an earlier posting (“What’s Important?” October 25th) I wrote about a high school classmate who, just after our class reunion in September, discovered she had galloping and untreatable cancer. From that discover she had about four weeks until she died on November 1st. And so, instead of the golf visit we had talked about, I traveled to Hilton Head this week to attend Sally’s memorial service and to give what support I could to her husband (and my classmate also), Chuck.

I wish I could convey the grace with which they have both moved through this: Sally in the way she accepted her fate and Chuck in his concern for the rest of us. What I experienced this past Friday — a standing-room-only service held in a circular meeting-house with a 360-degree view of the marshland and water-ways — while certainly sad, was also strangely joyful: a celebration of a life well lived and a reaffirmation of a bond that is not broken because someone’s physical body has ceased to function.

Chuck and Sally didn’t spend any time wallowing in their gaps. Certainly they didn’t choose this fate but they never wavered in their acceptance. If they can do that so fluidly, surely I can accommodate, now and then, an ugly double or triple-bogey? Or two? Or three? Or…?

Good night, Sal.

(Also new today: This week's fortune cookie!)

Monday, November 07, 2005

New Today: A "Slow" Golf Tip

Check the "Tips" page for the first of several "Slow is Good" suggestions.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

New This Weekend...

There is a lot of new stuff for you to check: a fortune cookie (Friday), a new essay (today), and a second podcast (Friday). Check them out!

By the way... I've heard from some people who presume the podcasts are not available to anyone who does not have an I-Pod. Not so! You can listen on-line any time, just by going to the Podcast page and clicking. Having an I-Pod lets you subscribe, which means that each new program is automatically dumped into your I-Pod so that you can listen anywhere and at any time.

Friday, November 04, 2005

What Were They Thinking??

One of the nice things about my home course complex in November is that our par-61 executive course is very open during weekdays. One can usually go out alone in the mid-morning and get a quick nine-hole tune-up in an hour and a half.

As I had a serious match coming up tomorrow, I decided at the last moment to do that today. When I arrived, there was a group going off the first tee, but the back side looked wide open, and so I went off the tenth tee with no one in sight in front of me. My plan was to play one of my favorite practice games: a "reverse scramble" where you hit two balls on every shot and play the worst of the two... it's remarkable how that makes you concentrate.

But, as I walked off the twelfth tee I saw a three-some moving toward the thirteenth green, and by the time I got to the fourteenth tee I had to wait for them to putt out and clear the green. By then I knew I was in trouble: the group was three older women, the type who move very slowly, putt out everything, and then have a coffee-klatch as they stand beside the green posting scores and gossiping. (I can say "old" without prejudice, because I'm old myself. I say "women" not through any bias... they just were!)

From that point forward I waited on every shot, and when I walked up to the seventeenth tee, they were barely 20 yards off the tee, hitting short ground balls through the rough towards the back edge of the fairway. There was no indication they even saw me, much less any offer to let me through. What could they have been thinking?

So I sat on the bench beside the tee and watched as they wandered down the fairway until they were out of range. But when I got up on the tee, they were walking back towards me, obviously looking for someone's ball. I then watched them walk forward and backwards again, for three round-trips, until they finally moved off and out of range. But, when I looked up from hitting my drive (long and straight, but pulled into the left-hand rough) I was shocked to see them walking back —again — along the left rough. And... you guessed it... they walked right to my ball and proceeded — without looking at it closely — to whack it off down the fairway.

Sure enough, when I got to the area, I easily found an old and scuffed Callaway about 15 feet to the left of where my new Titleist So-Lo (with a "Tyvek" logo on it) had been.

I caught them again on the eighteenth tee, as one of them had hit a clanker just off the front of the tee and was retrieving it in order to re-tee and hit a mulligan. Again, there was no recognition, much less any offer to play through or even to play in with them.

Here's the Zen question of the day. Do I say anything? Do I ask about the brand of ball that they lost and then "found" on the seventeenth? Does any of it matter?

I probably failed the test, as I did ask about the ball. "The ball you were looking for on 17... was it a Callaway?" That produced a brief look of panic, but a quick recovery. "Oh... No... " Then, brightly, "It was a 'Tech' something. I don't remember what else it said." (Remember the "Tyvec" logo??)

But, it was a beautiful day and this was a group of three ladies in their 70's, out on a glorious fall morning, walking the course. Who could find any fault with that?

(New today... a new fortune cookie for you, and the second Zen Golf essay will be posted tomorrow.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

New Today: A "Third Eye" Putting Tip

A shameless plug...

Visit the "Tips" page to see a putting idea taken from my Golf/Zen Novel, The Hole of the Third Eye).

See/click the Menu link for more info on the novel.