What the little white ball taught me about authenticity–Part II

From the desk of Greg Giesen

CLICK HERE to read Part I

And then my mouth dropped as the title came into view. No way! I exclaimed. Are you kidding me!

Sure enough, the one subject I no longer wanted to read about…the one symbol I never wanted to see again…was right there staring me in the face. The cover depicted a golf ball flying over the fairway, giddy and happy as a golf ball could be.

51mvDokZbSL__SL500_AA300_I wanted to throw up.

Actually, if you look closely at the cover, the ball is clearly headed out of bounds. Can you see it? Naturally I could resonate with that part, but another book on golf! No way. I quit, remember!

Before I could look away, four words in the subtitle caught my attention…the Game of Life.

I quickly looked around to make sure none of my golf school buddies were watching before grabbing the book. I was surprised by how comfortable it felt in my hands. And it had that new book smell too. Do you know that smell? Even the cover was enticing in its own way, making me want to test drive it by opening to a random page.

Don’t worry, I consoled myself, it’s not going to make me want to play golf again.

I fanned through the pages, stopping randomly on page 68, and began reading. Call it a coincidence or call it an act of God, but what I read ended up changing my view of life, not to mention my perspective on golf.


For those of you not familiar with the story, Bagger Vance is a caddy who mysteriously comes into the life of a struggling golfer and ends up helping him not only turn his game around but his life as well. Here’s the excerpt that I read that day in the Phoenix airport, with Bagger Vance speaking…

“I believe that each of us possesses, inside ourselves, one true Authentic Swing that is ours alone. It is folly to try to teach us another, or mold us to some ideal version of the perfect swing. Each player possesses only that one swing that he was born with, that swing which existed within him before he ever picked up a club. Our task as golfers is simply to chip away all that is inauthentic, allowing our Authentic Swing to emerge in its purity.”

It was as if the golf ball on the cover actually hit me in the head. I was dazed by the powerful message from this passage and its many implications.

That’s it! I screamed, with goose bumps covering my body. I’ve been going at it all wrong! Instead of changing my swing, I need to rediscover it. I need to go all the way back before my first golf lesson and embrace my natural swing…that swing I started with instead of all the many versions that have been imprinted on me over the years.

It was suddenly becoming very clear; I had been looking for answers in all the wrong places. I was defining myself and my swing by external measures instead of trusting my own internal instincts and desires. And what’s worse, I had lost myself in the process.

I smiled. And to think—all of this from a few sentences in a book!


But it’s true. I had somehow lost my authentic swing—which in essence was my authentic self—by allowing others to define who I am and who I needed to be. You might say I was experiencing an identity crisis on multiple levels.

In the end I came to realize that releasing all the opinions, standards, and judgments of others, including my own, led me to a much more simplified perspective on life, not to mention a more natural golf swing. I also tossed out the “how-to” cards, the fancy clubs, and stopped keeping score when I play. And guess what? It worked. I started having fun again. That childlike exhilaration that drew me to golf in the first place reappeared. I began noticing the little things like the squishiness of the grass under my shoes as I walked down the fairway…the ping of a club hitting the ball perfectly off the tee…or more importantly, the battery engine of the beer cart driving up in just the nick of time. You get the idea.

Yes, but has my golf game improved, you ask? Probably not; but I’m sure having fun again…and isn’t that what life’s all about!



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