With a tee time scheduled for 4:00 that afternoon, I looked at the poster of Frodo that reads "Power can be held in the smallest of things" and thought of one thing: the golf ball.
Those who are familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, know what I mean—the ring represents power and weakness, danger and temptation. And yet, its meaning changes. The golf ball is no different.
I committed to the sport of golf last summer. I have been a fan of the PGA for the last ten years and when health issues suggested that I reevaluate my commitment to running and aerobic activity, I decided golf was the ideal sport. I love being outside, I live in a place where one can play nearly year round, as a teacher I have time off in the summer and I love the 19th hole!
But I didn't want to just play golf, I wanted to become a golfer. I wanted to become comfortable enough with the game that I could play in a tourney without trepidation. I wanted to head out to most courses and know that I could give it a go, hit the ball well, move it forward, manage my game, improve.
People see me as athletic, but I have never been the athlete who picks up anything as though it were my second nature. I have usually met some level of success because of discipline and my willingness to commit time, focus and energy to the undertaking. I have played enough sports to know that learning to play a sport is an exercise in humility. Golf just might be the one where that notion reigns supreme. It blows my mind that a non-moving target can be that hard to hit. Indeed, power is held in something that is 1.68" in diameter.
Like the ring, golf has shown me that power doesn't always make for a good play and those who have it, might not be the one you expect. I played recently with two senior women who hit the ball further and more accurately than anyone I have played that course with.
And golf will mercilessly reveal one's weaknesses. Do you need patience? forgiveness? the ability to focus or remain optimistic? Golf exposes the good and the bad, our strengths and our human struggles. It is the humblest of teachers.
The temptation that accompanies golf runs the gamut, from the demands it puts on time to damage to the pocketbook. I will let those who have played much longer than I have to speak to the ways it seduces the imagination. In the past year, I am aware that consumerism is no stranger. What started as a desire for my own set of clubs has grown to wanting additional clubs (I've been eyeing that 5-hybrid) and it doesn't end there. New gear, summer shoes, winter shoes, even a digital green reader, I see the slippery slope that is the world of golf.
But golf is a sport of a lifetime. How a player understands, appreciates and loves the game will change with age, wisdom and those we share it with. The game doesn't change, but we do. From playing golf with a grandparent to one's grandchildren, it is a journey that is only beginning. And in that spirit, the quest for the ring continues...
NB: I don't know that J. R. Tolkien would be a fan of this blog as its foundation is analogy. I love a good allegory and he insisted the Lord of the Rings was not. We do however, share a common faith. And because of that, whether we intend to our not, we write from that perspective.
As reported in Faith and Fantasy: But it was Tolkien’s deeply held Catholic faith that most profoundly shaped his work. Though he rightly insisted The Lord of the Rings is not an allegorical work, the fact is that Tolkien thought, imagined, and wrote as a Catholic, and his work bears the clear signs of his faith, as he fully intended it should.
Lord of the Rings Poster
Lindsey Weaver, No 1 Notre Dame Golfer