After I moved back to the very flat land that is western Tennessee, my brother suggested I take up golf. His argument was that if you like being outside in nature, golf is one way to do that. The golf courses are usually very nice and pretty with trees and ponds galore. It was his way of helping me find something to do in the area since I was no longer in the land of mountains and lakes and oceans. And so I got a couple of used clubs and ventured over to a driving range and tried hitting some balls. It would be a couple of years before I started to really grasp the game and the different swings with the different clubs and irons, but I did eventually catch on and I liked it.
Golf is a mental game. Most people who become golfers are attracted to the mental side of the game. I refer to it as more of a mind fuck these days, but it does teach you a lot about life.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned on the course that I am trying to take off the course is the idea that one cannot focus on the whole course and expect to win. Instead, you have to focus solely on the hole you are playing, the swing you are swinging, because each swing brings its own set of problems. Every swing I take on the course has the potential to make me jump for joy or writhe in disbelief and defeat - not unlike every move I make in life. On the golf course you have to learn to enjoy the game for what it is - a total mind fuck. Or I guess better words would be you have to enjoy the problem solving of it all. You have to enjoy the ups and the downs. You have to learn to manage your emotions and not take it personally if you open the round with two pars and close with eight quadruple bogeys. In golf you have to cling to that last time you had a great day or a great hole even if it was two years ago. I think more than anything golf teaches you to enjoy the journey, the journey of being alive here on this planet.
In life we have good years and bad years. We have plans we execute well and end up with a loss that rattles us to our core. We also experience moments where no matter what we do it ends up perfect and those times can perplex us even more. In golf the only end game is to get better at golf, and in life the only end game is to enjoy the time we have - neither offers a concrete end goal or path to fulfillment. Both are about enjoying the journey and I think golf teaches you the how as you continue to play. Maybe that is the caveat - you just have to continue to play - in golf and in life.