What golfer has not hit a perfect shot and for that instant felt the joy of being in touch with a greater order of things? Unfortunately, such experiences are short lived. Seemingly from nowhere, thoughts, feelings, sensations and distractions quickly intrude, and you’re back in the “real” world. Telling the story to others about the great golf short briefly strokes the ego, but soon starts to feel empty as time passes.

So, are there other pathways to purposefully locate the portal to that other world brought briefly into focus by the perfect golf shot? There seem to be no clear road signs to follow, but it will help to learn the skills to calm the mind and to ride more serenely on the roller coaster of desire and expectation, both on and off the golf course. One basic lesson I learned from a caddy on the Old Course. After hitting back and forth a few times out of a pair of green side bunkers, I found myself thinking and moving faster with each subsequent poor swing. After a few too many visits to the sand, the caddy mercifully intervened saying “laddie, when you start to lose your game, slow down and breathe.” Right breathing is as central to golf as it is to daily life, let alone to life’s critical moments when things are not going well.

You may ask “what good is mindful breathing if I have such a flawed golf swing?” Everyone has flaws in their swing that require ongoing attention. This can be especially challenging for aging or injured golfers, for whom “improvement” requires reframing.

If you care to find your way back to the world of that perfect golf shot, you will have to travel a route which involves both the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of Golf.

Dr. Rich