January 10, 2013 Jon Roy

Having is not Being

Your golf swing is you…

My mind was disturbed recently when I watched an interview with a professional golfer who was trying to explain why his performance was not up to standard.  This player was well back of the lead and had just spent most of the day looking for his ball and trying to make 8 foot putts for par.  The interviewer was asking this player to explain why his performance was off of late.

At one point in the interview the player suggested: “well I had “my old coach’s” move for the back swing and I had  “my new coach’s” move for the downswing…”   And for me what immediately struck me was how sad it was to watch a professional athlete describe what I would describe as his own individual athleticism (his  swing) as being something outside of him – something that can be “had” – something which is essentially bought, adopted, or used.

In this example, the athlete in question was describing to the interviewer how he felt stuck between his old coach and his new coach.  Essentially, the athlete was making an excuse for his poor play by establishing a thing to blame – his golf swing – and by claiming that he just didn’t have the right swing.  But again the alarms were going off in my head as I felt concern for an athlete who has tremendous innate potential but was searching blindly for something outside of him to have.  Effectively, this athlete was trying on swings as if they were costumes – and it was no wonder to me that this player was struggling to enjoy the game and to perform.  The more we try to have a swing, the further we move away from our self.  The further we move away from our true self – the harder it is to enjoy what we do.  And if we don’t enjoy what we do, it’s almost impossible to perform to our potential.

When did the game of golf take this ugly turn? – when did we start to think that a golf swing was some commodity that could be bought and sold?  When did golf development change from hard work and self-discovery to high-priced fixes which are bought, sold and (ab)used?  When did the golf swing get taken away from the “self” and get packaged to be bought and sold?

Try to imagine, along with me, that the golf swing is an ever-changing motion which is rooted in the vagaries of the golf experience.  When we play golf on any given day, on any given moment, one’s swing must be different than the one before it and the one which will come next.  Can we please stop trying to have a swing, and instead learn to be an athlete that adapts his/her swing to each scenario?  Playing golf is a verb, not a noun. Let’s imagine a golf world where athletes are eager to learn and adapt to each situation they face.  A golf world where coaching is intent on uncovering patterns in the student rather than applying layer upon layer upon the learner until they become mummified athletes – devoid of touch,adaptability and enjoyment.

I encourage you to see your golf swing as a part of you, inextricably tied to things like your mood, your personality, your physique, and your environment.  Golf is a sport which asks you to adapt to new situations with every shot.  Golfers are immersed in ever-changing natural surroundings.  If you want to have a golf swing – then buy a Nintendo.  If you want to be a golfer, then challenge this disturbing trend in our game and seek to become the best that you can be, and accept that this search comes from within.

Note: Philosophers in the group might be keen to further explore these differences between having and being – look into Marxist theorists like Erich Fromm, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25490.To_Have_or_to_Be_The_Nature_of_the_Psyche

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