Why do you play golf? You might be surprised


As the golf season gets underway and you re-engage in your precarious affair with the game, I’m going to challenge you to do something you may have never done.

But first… if someone—usually a non-golfer—asks what you like about golf, you might talk about getting exercise, being outside in a beautiful place, and spending time with friends and family.

If you’re an avid player, all of that may be true, but you’re really just scratching the surface.

And you don’t just like golf. You freaking love it. In fact, you obsess, fret, dream and scheme about it. It’s like a maddening partner who you don’t quite understand but cannot live without.

But have you ever really explored what get out of your relationship with golf?

Most people haven’t. I believe it’s worth taking a look. Otherwise, the game can drive you crazy to the point it makes you out-of-your-mind angry, desperately sad, and chronically disappointed. Some players get so frustrated that they feel like quitting the game.

Even if you are a weekend warrior or a professional golfer, you can keep the game in perspective if you take a good look at why you play the game in the first place.

So here’s my challenge to you: ask yourself “Why do I you play golf?”

It is a great question. The answers provide some interesting perspective, especially as you launch into a new season, no doubt  with some hope and expectations. That’s what we do!

But I suggest you go further than just thinking about it—write it.

When I start with new coaching clients, I ask them early in the process to do this writing exercise. You might respond that you already know “why,” but I’ll bet that if you immerse yourself in the exercise you’ll be surprised what comes out.

Do this exercise when you have some time, you won’t be interrupted, and ideally when you’re relatively fresh. The best time is when you first get up before looking online or talking to anyone. I do this kind of writing, which I call Morning Pages, within minutes of getting out of bed.

I suggest you use 8 ½ x 11 paper and a pen. The key is to start writing and do not stop until you are finished. Keep writing until you fill both sides of the paper. If the words are flowing, keep going until you feel you’ve emptied the well. (I believe that longhand is ideal because writing is a mind-body experience that allows you to go deeper, but if you prefer to type it, that’s fine.)

The key is to keep writing continuously. Do not stop and think, correct words, cross things out, look things up, etc. Just write and write.

This will allow you to tap into your unconscious. You’re not thinking or grinding on this; it’s more like you’re allowing the words to spill out on to the paper without controlling them. This will allow you to go down into your guts where your feelings, desires, dreams and are—the stuff that you may not talk about too often.

Write your piece and put it aside. Do not read it right away or make changes to it. Let it be for a few hours, or even for a day.

When you read it, you may find it fascinating and provides you with a little serenity. Most everyone who goes deep with this exercise is surprised.*

Golf may connect you with when you ran around freely as kid with friends, or to memories with a parent or someone who introduced you to the game. You might find that golf provides an escape, a chance to have some laugh-yourself-silly fun, a sense of adventure, a portal to learn about yourself, or to see what you’re truly capable of. The reasons we play golf are endlessly varied.

What you may find is that your ‘why’ is connected with your passions, aspirations, or to what you’re searching or striving for. For some, their why might just be having goofy fun while for others it’s almost a spiritual experience.

It’s interesting that the core reasons that most people play golf are rarely about score, such as a desire to break 80-90-100 or lower their handicap, or to not look like an idiot on the first tee.

Yet, most golfers fixate on their scores and how they appear to others, and they are chronically disappointed because they rarely shoot the numbers or make the kinds of shots that match their  expectations. It’s just the elusive nature of the obsession.

But if you connect with why you really play the game, you’ll find some perspective and I’m quite sure that you’ll find more joy and freedom in golf. You might find that a blow-up hole or a high score doesn’t sting so much because you know that’s not ultimately what’s most important to you. You might even find that you feel lighter, more relaxed, and you enjoy the beautiful surroundings or your playing partners more.

What’s really interesting is that you will likely find that you play better too. Without trying to.

I’ll delve into this further in a future blog.

*If you feel like you’ve just opened the flood gates, keep doing the exercise, which I believe increases self-understanding and provides a therapeutic release. It’s also a fantastic tool for generating ideas and brainstorming.

Picture: www.unrealitytv.co.uk


About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!