Making a Commitment to the Game
In one of my discussions concerning golf, a friend of mine with a very long and historic linage
related to the golfing world made the following comment regarding people who call
themselves golfers but truly aren’t giving everything they have to the game. He said they are
showing “zero commitment to themselves and the game.” Zero of commitment to themselves
and the game. Those words have rung in my head over and over ever since he first said
them. Zero commitment to themselves and the game.
As these words continued to echo in my brain, I also remembered a line from Michael Murphy’
s famous fictional character, Shivas Irons. He said, “Ye’ll come away from the links with a
new hold on life, that is certain if ye play the game with all your heart.”
Essentially, the Shivas Irons’ quote seemed to build on my friends quote. If you give all you’
ve got to the game, your life will be altered for the better. At least that is what I interpret the
combined comments to mean.
Now I don’t want to be redundant, so I won’t. If you want background on where I am coming
from simply read (or re-read) “Evolution of a Golfer”, “What I strive to be on a Golf Course”,
“My Calling in the Golf World”, and “Golf…What it means to Me”. Nevertheless, I have given
all I have to the game of golf and I still am continuing to give. During this process, I have
experienced an almost magical transformation within my mind and my thought processes. It
is something I really can’t explain and perhaps many reading this won’t get what I am driving
at or they might think I am flat out crazy. But that is okay with me, as perhaps they aren’t
who I am writing to anyway.
For sure there are many who don’t share my views on the game of golf. But that is okay with
me, as I am not even sure I view it as a game anymore. I prefer to describe it as a way of
life. And I don’t just mean on the golf course. I mean it is a way of life that will pervade
everything you do and how you think. That is, if you give everything you have to it.
By giving everything you have to the game, I don’t mean just practice and playing. Being a
scratch golfer, or better, is not a criterion for judging whether you are giving all you have to
the game. However, I do think your score/handicap will improve if you show commitment to
the game. But I think this transformative process will be deeper than something a pencil and
scorecard can capture. I am sure this transformation is different for everyone and I only
know what is has meant to me thus far in my journey.
And maybe that is what it is indeed, a journey. And this journey has been shared by all true
golfers throughout history. Names like Old Tom Morris, Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson and
Babe Zaharias spring into my mind regarding people who’ve already made the journey.
However I am sure there have been many others throughout history who have felt the way
these golfers felt about the game, but most of these other golfers were not nearly as famous
or well-known. But does that mean they were any less a golfer? I don’t think so. You don’t
have to win a championship or be a scratch golfer to be a true golfer. Perhaps Frank Tatum’
s criteria are the best way to judge these true golfers…
"In (his) book a golfer is someone who:
* appreciates the privilege of being able to play the game;
* respects its values and traditions;
* respects the game's rules, and plays accordingly;
* handles success with charm;
* handles failure with grace;
* adds something positive to the experience of those with whom he or she plays.”
But then again, maybe there are no criteria for being welcome among these elites in the
game of golf. Maybe it is just something you feel.
However, maybe Ben Hogan captured the essence of the requirement to be in the “club” with
his famous quote regarding how to find your swing. He didn’t say you need to have a
balanced stance, overlapping grip, weight transfer during ball contact, blah, blah. No. He
simply said if you are looking for your swing, “you will find it in the dirt.” The ground from
which all of the world’s golf courses are built not only holds the key to making a great golf
course; it also holds the key to finding your perfect swing. And all you have to do is pound
that dirt enough and you will find it.
To speak of someone giving everything they had to the game, you must speak about Ben
Hogan. His commitment to the game not only led him and his family out of poverty, but it also
gave him his identity and through his efforts he has become an immortal in the game. And I
would argue all this was possible only because he gave all he had to the game. When he
was almost killed in a car wreck in 1949, doctors said he would never walk again. But Mr.
Hogan did walk. In fact he not only walked, he won the first US Open he entered following his
accident and he completed the “Hogan Slam” in 1953. Through his commitment he
accomplished amazing things. And anyone who commits to the game at the level that Ben
Hogan did will also accomplish great things. These great things might be major
championships, but they might not be. Each and every one of our great accomplishments
will be different and the only way to find out what they will be is to complete the journey.
Golf means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some like the competition,
while others like the camaraderie. Some enjoy the time on the course, while other enjoying
spending time studying the games history. Regardless of your passion concerning the
game, those who commit everything they have to it will find their life transformed as they
embark on the wonderful journey that is golf.