Why fight it? I’m passionate about golf and have been ever since I was a teenager. In terms of my current spiritual life, the tendency of Buddhists like me is to think in terms of “ascent” – opening to ever more rarified forms of consciousness. But “descent” is another possibility – seeing the transcendent in worldly activities, in experiences of the body. Both approaches contribute to my well-being. So here I am once more descending into golf.
My passion for the game has been under wraps for a few years but I can feel it re-emerging. For the past few days, I’ve been reminiscing about my past golfing life, and how I’ve seen the sport as symbolic of life’s journey.
As a kid, I spent a couple of weeks every summer on grandpa’s farm near Dunsford, Ontario. I remember teeing it up near the lane and trying to reach a fence maybe 120 yards away with my drives. I don’t think I ever succeeded but I sure had fun, even though I lost a lot of balls in the grain.
A few hundred yards down the road was a nine-hole course – the Dunsford Golf Club. I spent so many hours walking those fairways alone, hitting the occasional shot that felt so pure, so effortless. I was becoming a human being.
Back home in Toronto, I discovered the Don Valley Golf Course. Juniors could play early in the morning. Even earlier, as the sun rose, I usually was scouring the banks of the Don River in search of golf balls. Once, I walked onto the 18th tee, a par four, having consumed 84 strokes in my round. A bogey five and I would break 90 for the first time in my life. The river crossed in front of the green. After my drive landed fine in the fairway, I stood over the ball. I was nervous. Put the ball into the drink and there’d go the milestone achievement. Instead I swung smoothly and watched the ball soar onto the green. Two putts later, I had an 88. Never since have I broken 90 … but the future beckons.
Even way back then, I loved watching the professionals play. I’ve stood behind Jack Nicklaus on the tee in Toronto and Calgary, watching the ball continue to climb. One time I stepped on Gary Player’s ball, happily in a practice round. I’ve seen the majesty of St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto. More recently, I’ve followed women pros as they navigated the rolling fairways of my hometown London Hunt and Country Club. Usually in a blissed-out frame of mind.
Golf is in my genes, I guess. A resonating part of my life for so many years. Yes, it’s been underground for awhile but you can’t keep a good sport down. On I go into a journey of rediscovery.