Excerpt from my book: “The Soul of the Game”

Pembroke Vaile, an intriguing and pensive man from the last century, wrote expressively on the “soul” of golf.  Among its elusive elements, he claimed, is “the sheer beauty of the flight of the ball,” and the almost “sensuous delight which comes to the man who created that beauty, and knows how and why he did it.”[i]  There is something intoxicating in the harmonically pure meeting of club and ball.  Ben Hogan, one of the best to ever play the game, loved to practice and hit golf balls from sunup to sundown.  He once said that the perfectly struck shot “goes from the ball, up the club’s shaft, right to your heart.”[ii]  This is the true essence of what has attracted people to the game for five centuries.  For whether it’s a hickory shafted club from the 1800s or a modern graphite shafted titanium driver, the player still has to execute the shot properly.

Golf is a game that has been called a microcosm of life, as every day offers a new set of challenges.  To succeed you must work hard to develop your gifts, possess healthy doses of self-confidence and patience, and persevere when times get tough.  Golf has been described as a “self-reliant, silent, sturdy,” game, which “leans less on its fellows,” and “loves best to overcome  obstacles alone.”[iii]

Success or failure depends on one person, ourselves.  There are no teammates to help us out when things go wrong, and unlike baseball, we have to play our foul balls.  To excel at the highest levels, particular and rare talents are required.  Not only physical skill, but a strong and resolved character is necessary to overcome the adversity that will undoubtedly come.  As Charles Blair Macdonald, one of the founding fathers of American golf put it in 1898:  “No game brings out more unerringly the true character of a man or teaches him a better lesson in self-control.”[iv]

The people in this book all possessed confidence in their abilities and were dogged in their pursuit of excellence.  But without natural talent, they would never have been heard from.  Each of us is born into this world with certain gifts, which, if fully exercised, lead us to the life path we are meant to follow.  There are different kinds of gifts, and different kinds of work, but the same God works those gifts in all men and women.[v]  So says the Bible.  To express our gifts and build a fulfilling life around them is the highest expression of our true essence.

[i] Pembroke Arnold Vaile, The Soul of Golf (New York:  Macmillan Company, 1912), 3.

[ii] Don Wade, Talking on Tour: The Best Anecdotes from Golf’s Master Storyteller (New York: Contemporary Books, 2001), 153.

[iii] Haultain, 15.

[iv] Charles Blair Macdonald,“Golf: The Ethical and Physical  Aspects of the Game” Golf, 2 (January 1898), 21.

[v] Romans 12:6; I Corinthians 12:4-6.

[LS1]CHARACTER – the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

Rudy T. “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”


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