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Opinion & Analysis

The spiritual side of golf

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Golf in its most fully realized form is a spiritual endeavor. Like the evolutionary layers of the human brain or the stages of growth in a human life, there are different levels at which golf can be experienced, from the physical to the spiritual, and many levels in between.

In this series, The Spiritual Side, golf will be discussed and analyzed from a spiritual perspective. The term “spiritual” is used here in its broadest sense, encompassing everything from meditation to the world’s major religions to simple conscious gratitude, and as distinguished from terms like mental, emotional, scientific, etc.

In “Golf My Way,” Jack Nicklaus wrote that a golf shot is based only ten percent upon the swing. The other ninety percent that determines the outcome of the shot is how you see the shot (fifty percent) and how you set up (forty percent). In today’s modern golf-scape, it is easy to feel that golf is ninety percent what clubs you have in your bag and ten percent the mechanics of your swing. While I have been known to admire certain golf clubs and fixate on my wrist angle at the top of my backswing, to experience golf only from a material or performance perspective can leave one feeling empty. What is golf really about? Why do we play? At the end of our lives, what aspects of golf will we look back upon and cherish? What aspects will we regret?

One of my favorite things about golf is that almost everything about it is a perfect metaphor for life. A popular saying goes “You’ll know everything you need to know about a person after playing eighteen holes with them.” As I look back on my golfing life, its stages almost perfectly mirror the stages of my life as a whole. As a child, I was captured by the wonder of the game, the adventure of it. I can still smell the grass and feel the excitement in my veins on the morning I first set a pure white ball on a colorful tee on an actual golf course. As a teenager, I became obsessed with my score, my very being and self-worth desperately tied to every shot. In my twenties, golf took on a less important role, as I explored the world and figured out who I was and wanted to become. In my thirties, golf has been about the journey, the joy of being outdoors, being with my playing partners, relishing in the good shots and rounds, shaking my head in confusion and laughter at the terrible shots. For each of these stages of golf, the same could be said about the corresponding stage of my life, substituting years for rounds, my perspective on successes and failures in life a mirror of my reaction to flushed drives and shanks.

As my relationship to golf changes and evolves, I can’t help but notice the progression away from the elemental, the ego, and the emotional, toward awareness, gratitude, and the spiritual. This series will be about that evolution, and how spiritual experience represents the final and highest stage of golf actualization. It will be an exploration for me, as well as hopefully the reader and the contributor. I do not claim to know everything about golf and spirituality, and I am no guru. But I do believe that a spiritual experience is the highest expression of our beloved game. And if you feel as I do that this aspect of golf (and, as always, the word “life” may be substituted for “golf”) has been under-represented in the mediasphere; hopefully you will find this series worthwhile and edifying.

I look forward to reading your comments, having a conversation, and seeing where this series may take us. This area of inquiry is rich and fertile, and while I have several ideas for future topics, I’m sure the contribution from this community will take the series in unforeseen yet fascinating directions.

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Devon Petersen learned to golf in the harsh conditions of the high plains in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He doesn’t exactly know why, but for some reason around the age of twelve, he felt an intense urge to be on a golf course. He played high school golf and lucked into an adolescent golfer’s dream job of working at a golf course in the summers until he left for college at Princeton University. There he majored in history with an emphasis on cultural and intellectual history. He traveled extensively during and after college, absorbing the varied views on life from Argentina to Thailand. Following these sojourns, he returned to Wyoming where he studied law, became a lawyer, got married, and began to think about golf on more spiritual terms.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. John

    May 4, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    I think you are on to something worth reflecting on. There is much to grateful for on the golf course—your playing comrades, the natural surroundings including the wildlife, the creativity of the course designer, and your own physical ability and skill. These aspects in my experience are spiritual.

  2. CB

    Apr 28, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    It’s spiritual and wonderful right up until my 3rd double bogey. I enjoy golf more when I’m able to accept that I’m terrible. However I’m too much of a competitor to just enjoy an 85 for the 257th time. No, for me any round in the 70’s brings on a fabulous spiritual connection that I treasure. Happens 4 or 5 times a year, so it ain’t all that bad.

  3. Kansas lefty

    Apr 28, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    When you make this connection golf becomes more beautiful

    • geohogan

      Apr 30, 2019 at 11:57 am

      Regretably, only a relatively small % of the population is capable of experiencing these levels of appreciation of nature of beauty.

      As we learn more about the human brain, it is becoming obvious that %^ of the population is deficient in areas of the brain responsible for specific thought processes.
      in the extreme, psychopaths have underdeveloped or are missing entirely the
      amygdala; that area of the brain responsible for empathy and compassion.

      The brains of many others simply make them incapable of appreciation of the same aesthetic.
      Gives meaning to : Forgive them for they know not…..

  4. Acemandrake

    Apr 28, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Golf provides the opportunity to be our best selves.

  5. Dennis

    Apr 28, 2019 at 1:41 am

    Golf is a fair game – Life is not.

  6. Spit

    Apr 28, 2019 at 1:39 am

    omg stfu geez leave it out you talking bs nobody cares about this sh111t you getting it confused with spit

    • Rascal

      Apr 28, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Is this what passes hip hop nowadays? Sad.

  7. Jamie

    Apr 27, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    I’m really looking forward to reading this. So far it perfectly reflects my experience with the game of golf…and life…as well.

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Opinion & Analysis

5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

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You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

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Podcasts

TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

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Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Gear Dive: Vokey Wedge expert Aaron Dill

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Titleist Tour Rep Aaron Dill on working under Bob Vokey, How he got the gig and working with names like JT, Jordan and Brooks.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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