How My Sons Brought Me Back to the Game (of Life)

It’s been nearly a month since my last “Golfing for Enlightenment” posting. That realization along with this week’s PGA “Major” brings me back to the topic. My last entry had me rehearsing my love-hate relationship with golf. Given my frustrations, around the age of 30, I threw in the towel.

But then for some reason, in my mid-fifties, I introduced the game to my two sons, Brendan and Patrick. Their uncle, Gerry encouraged and instructed them further and from then on there was no stopping them. As early teenagers, they spent a year in Zimbabwe, while my wife, Peggy, was doing her Fulbright at the University there in Harare. In Zimbabwe, Brendan and Patrick’s after-school activity was playing golf. Their venue was the Royal Harare, where (with an extremely favorable exchange rate), the annual membership fee was something like $150 USD. In no time at all, they were threatening to break par and winning golf tournaments.

They also lured me back to the course. I remember playing with Patrick early on in Zimbabwe. He was 12 at the time. It was at about the thirteenth hole, that he realized he was going to beat me for the first time. I recall the confusion in his eyes when our conversation made that apparent. He wasn’t sure it was right to beat his dad. But he forged ahead and whipped me soundly. Soon my pre-teen was instructing his 58 year old father on the differences between what he called “effortless power” and the “powerless effort” he saw in my swing. Since 1998 I’ve never even come close to challenging Patrick. His drives of 300 yards + make my 180-200 yard efforts laughable. Still he and his brother like me to play with them. And they’re usually pretty kind about their dad’s pedestrian performances. If it weren’t for the bonding between the three of us on the course, I’d have quit the game for good long ago. 

When I retired two years ago, I decided to get serious about golf. I bought a couple of books, subscribed to some DVDs, and played about four times a week. Of course, with all of that my scores lowered. A couple of times, I almost shot par on the easiest of the courses we play – and once (for nine holes) on a more difficult course. But mostly my scores remained in the 90s, sometimes, early in the season and on the tougher courses, creeping again above 100. More than once, I’ve threatened to pack it in completely.

But then I read Deepak Chopra’s Golf for Enlightenment: the seven lessons of the game of life. My golfing history and a life-long commitment to meditation made me pick up the book. Come to think of it, I’ve had a relationship with meditation that somewhat mirrors the golfing account I’ve just shared. This brings me to the”life” and “enlightenment” part of these reflections.

 I’ll deal with those in my next golf posting.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 40 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

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