Golf : Deceptively Simple but a Difficult Divine game

September 15, 2016

There are only two types of people – those who don’t understand why and how someone can play golf. And those who play golf passionately. There is nothing like a golfer not passionate about golf or a non golfer who can understand why one plays golf. That’s why golfers are called crazy – no one understands a golfer except a golfer.

Golfers are rare because Golf is a deceptively simple game. Yes, it’s very difficult. It can take anything between 3 months to a year to learn, resulting in higher dropout rates and so, a small golfing community. Even those who continue, struggle with it so much as to prove the adage – “Golf is the most stressful thing I do to relax”.  It requires great persistence to continue learning golf.

Here is my take on why it’s difficult. In any sport, there is very high proportion between ball surface area and hitting surface area. That increases the allowable margins of error. Means all other games are very liberal with the position of point of contact . Take any sport – badminton, TT, cricket, football, baseball…

Golf is very precise. The ball is small, the club face is also small, the club lengths are longer than any other game. The margin of error is only a few mm. Hence it takes a longer time to learn the precision needed in golf. This difficult precision requires absolute concentration and flawless execution.

Other games are reflexive so you don’t have much time to think. Here you play a shot at your own leisure. Lots of time to think between shots – to experiment, course correct, agonise over and get stressed. Every shot gets on your nerves – you swing between agony of a bad shot and ecstasy of a good one. In one game itself, a golfer pendumums between jumping with joy and cursing his heart out!

I went through all of it before I read “The Inner Game of Golf” by Timothy Galwey. I also read many books by Dave Pelz. While l learnt psyche control from Mr. Galwey, I learnt to be scientific by reading Mr. Pelz. Now I play golf to enjoy it, learn continuously; and not to curse or swear. I don’t let scores affect my relationship with golf.

The triumphs and tribulations of golf are all in the mind. The biggest learning is to enjoy the game and remain unaffected.

Having learnt this secret, it helps me enjoy, keep laughing, enjoy the beauty of nature sprawled around us, the companionship with my fellow golfers. And all of this is regardless of the last shot I played.

The best outcome of this paradigm is my golf only. Now a days, if I duff a shot, I don’t spoil the hole. I just try to make a bogey and usually make it. Two duffs, try for a double bogey. More duffs than that and it becomes a cool practice hole. The good and bad shots have now stopped affecting me.

Another big learning is that this game humbles us. It breaks your ego, I.e. the notions of “being powerful” and “being in control”. All our ability to control inputs, method and outcomes come to naught. If you learn this, you can transcend your ego, and surrender to the divinity of golf, it makes you a humble man.

Golf is a meditative game – you require highest levels of Concentration, Confidence, Courage and Composure. These 4 important Cs apply equally in life and golf… *

I think the biggest things a golfer needs to become are GOLF itself-


– Grounded and Humble
 : when you hit a good shot, be humble that you could duff the next shot. A good shot brings overconfidence to hit the next shot well and then you duff it or slice it. Humility brings calmness needed for next shot.

– Optimist: After a bad shot, my next shot can be the best of the day if I take the bad shot in my stride, don’t fret over it or curse. Optimism helps recover the game and you hit a good shot after a bad one with greater peace.

– Logical and Scientific : instead of feeling depressed (or elated); analyse what went wrong (or right). Build the learning into next shot. This is the best way to self learn from your own actions. If you are consistently playing bad shots, ask your partner to take a video of your next shot and learn from it as you walk to next shot..


– Forgets and Forgives :
when you hit a bad shot, forget about it, forgive yourself and move on to next shot by learning from it and being scientific about it. The self forgiveness also helps greater self acceptance of own faults, rather than blaming a bad shot on 20 other external things, including fellow golfer’s actions.

I play golf with internalizing the above GOLF factors which allows me to immensely enjoy every game, course, company and myself- regardless of my scores.

I am a golfer for life given that golf is my great teacher of life. I must say golf has taught me the most about life and my own nothingness.

If I cannot control the flight of the ball, how can I control my destiny! So let me enjoy it with learned equanimity.

I’m an avid golfer for last 4 years and play to a 19 handicap. The only thing I will ever regret about golf is that I started it late – only when I was 40! But I’m hooked for life.


Acknowledgements – 

– All my coaches and fellow golfer friends.

Dave Pelz and Timothy Galwey for the books which taught me science and psyche of golf.

– My fellow golfers in the KVGC Whatsapp group who read and appreciated my posts on our group and then wholeheartedly motivated me to write this blog.

* 4 Cs contributed by my fellow golfer Jitendra Ghugal. Thanks.

^ GOLF acronym prompted by a thought from my fellow golfer Nitin Agrawal. He suggested the acronym HOFS for my bullet points about Humility, Optimism, Forgiveness and Scientific. I could then change HOFS to GOLF with the help of online Thesauras. Thanks Nitin.

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What’s All the Noise about Tata Small Car

December 24, 2007

I am in India and when I read everywhere about the Tata Small Car, I am flustered. Have we gone berserk to talk so much about it? Is it just another gup shup or is there something serious to all the concerns being thrown about its launch? E.g. road congestion, pollution, etc. I tried to think from different angles on the small car to find out for myself if the concerns are really worth it. Given the limitation of time in a single day, I will try to express my viewpoints in multiple small posts (like the car :-)) In each, I will try to explore a new viewpoint while trying to address any comments of previous post.

Air Conditioner v/s Fan is equal to Small Car v/s Motorcycle

Didn’t you know that there is so much power shortage in India? I did a quick google and found that the power shortage is estimated at 70,000 MW! With this kind of power shortage, people don’t get to run fans in their homes. Why is it that the government is allowing Air conditioners (ACs) to be sold? Well, the logic goes like this – should government mandate that everyone get to run fans in their homes all the time but no ACs please. Or should people run ACs and fans as per their purchasing power, for whatever time the power is available – while everyone also endures 2-7 hour power cuts.

Why isn’t that everyone who is cursing Tata Motors for bringing small car, also not cursing the companies who sell ACs? After all, the way Tata Motors is being blamed for trying to make it worse for road users, AC companies do make it worse for people with fans or bulbs – basic amenities. The grounds are common if you take the logic logically. Everyone looks upto the government for improving the power situation but does not curse the AC companies for a continuous reduction in the price of ACs. Why then should we not look upto the government to improve the road infrastructure instead of junking Tata Motors or other car companies for increasing the congestion with smaller and cheaper cars.

Well, the way I look at it – India has been a shortage economy and the shortage has been most severe in infrastructure areas – power, water, roads, telephones, etc. Does it mean that people stop thinking about better lifestyles – ACs, washing machines, cars, etc? Each one of us has his needs and the means to fulfill these needs. The companies address these by making goods for their target customer’s pockets. This is nothing but market economy! Should we junk the needs of human beings, the companies who fulfill them or shouldn’t we just ask for better infrastructure to facilitate the human needs?

Please give me your thoughts about it. My next post will be on the car markets in India and around. I will try to incorporate your comments in the next post.