To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Swinging into focus

300 yards; that is a long distance. It is roughly 50 yards short of the height of the Eiffel Tower and roughly three-quarters the height of the Empire State building. If you were to be staring down the length of a straight 300 yard distance infront of you it would take you a good while to sprint across. Yet, in a time as short as 20 seconds a little white ball only about an inch and a half in diameter can cross that distance with ease.

Golf to many comes across as a pretentious sport and it is easy to understand why as well. The PGA and other organizations, such as LIV Golf, with their massive paychecks have not done a lot to shake off that perception. Many see it as a “sport” where country club folks in their $200 polo shirts shank their overpriced balls into the woods of their perfectly manicured courses to the left or duck filled ponds on the right of the fairway. Golf in many ways has earned the reputation built around it, but the intention of this is not to discuss the flaws of a sport with many barriers for entry. No, here golf, and more specifically the swing, has served as a tool for self reflection.

As a disclaimer, I am certainly no PGA level player, unless you happen to see my Wii Sports Resorts stats which are on par with the scores of Tiger Woods from the 2006 Masters (I promise I have a life). But with that being said, I try my best to understand the sport and the one motion which separates the pros from the amateurs: the swing. For a PGA professional such as Justin Thomas or Rory McIlroy a 300 yard drive which sends the ball 95 feet in the air and gives it a trajectory that is as straight as an arrow is typical. But for every amateur and enthusiast who plays, getting the ball 50 yards past the tee and to even fly straight is a task which praying before every swing can never fix.

That one motion, those four seconds when your body is moving and impacting the ball can define the outcome of a four hour round of golf. Crazy to think how a moment as short as that can have such a big impact on the scorecard and on your own mentality on the course.

In the very same way small moments throughout our days, weeks, months and even years can alter our trajectory for productivity, positivity and endurance. 

As a new golfer you step up to the tee with nothing but confidence. Ready to smack the ball as hard as you can with no informed reason as to how you are actually going to swing the club or follow through. But that joy quickly fades as you see the number on your scorecard begin to rise. Suddenly, just smacking the ball no longer seems like the best idea, because either your ball is going to the left and ending up in the water or going right and perching itself in the branch of a tree roughly 150 yards ahead of you.

This to me has always reminded me of childhood. You enter into every situation with nothing but your childish naivety which gives you the confidence to do anything, but provides no emotional support to rely on when suddenly your game falls apart in front of you. You go to school excited for recess football but when you are picked last everything falls apart and a temper tantrum ensues. But as you grow up, you begin to pick up on important skills: understanding emotions, explaining them and acting to stabilize them. You learn that when you step up to the ball (if you’re right handed—sorry lefties, deal with it) on a drive that the ball should be just on the inside of your left foot. That you never take your eyes off the ball, that on the backswing you turn your wrists to the right and on the follow through you turn them to the left. And of course, do not forget to swing your hips before your shoulders for that extra pace and power on the ball!

Slowly as you play the course of life you are seeing drastic improvement. Your balls are flying straight ahead of you and while you may misswing from time to time you are no longer a beginner. Your score comes down and your confidence is no longer coming from nowhere but from within you and your own pride in the golfer/person you have become.

But life is never so forgiving as to let that be enough forever and ever. You slowly realize that every shot is taking more and more focus. You walk up to each ball, to each obstacle in life, and have to remind yourself, “left foot, wrists, hips and do not take your eyes off the ball!” That focus is critical, because when it is lost the smallest adjustments in your back or wrists can send your ball into the woods as it would when you were a beginner.

Those are the shots which ruin us. Not the bad games where we played sub-par all around but the good games where we shank a single shot and the whole experience is ruined. That is the importance of focus. It keeps us together and informs us on how to deal with the world around us.

But just like golf, in life, not all of us are pros and we can lose our focus easily and find ourselves mad at the situation we put ourselves into. It can be hard to pull yourself from a bad shot because every shot after reminds us of our horrible miss before and our confidence drops. Snapping back into focus is hard and unlike golf, in life it does not always take a few breaths and practice swings to fix.

But that is when we meditate, when we seek counsel from professionals, talk to loved ones and slow down the pace of our life. Because jumping right into the next shot is never a good strategy on the course for golf and life. Take a moment before each shot to set your feet, lazer your eyes in on the ball and tighten your grip on the club. Soon, 300 yards will shrink before your very eyes and being focused will slowly become an easier state to keep yourself in.

It is never those bad games which fill us with the fear that our focus is not strong enough, it is the single shots in a good game which do that. Focus is a hard skill to develop sometimes, but when you can recenter yourself, after meeting with professionals or calming yourself down, you can make the 300 yard drives and hardships in life seem far easier to get through. You just have to swing back into focus.


Feel free to pick a photo that I have below, there are two!


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