by Rick Vogel
Golf is beyond words and beyond understanding. Words may be used to speak of it, but they cannot contain it.
Golf and its many manifestations arise from the same source -- subtle wonder within mysterious darkness. This is the beginning of all handicaps.
When golfers find one course beautiful, another consequently becomes ugly. When one golfer is held up as good, another is judged deficient.
Golf is the hidden secret source of all life. Good men recognize that golf provides for them and, therefore, they esteem it. Bad men don't recognize this, but golf doesn't stop providing for them.
Similarly, golfers and non-golfers balance each other; difficult and easy lies define each other; long and short putts illustrate each other; high and low bunkers rest upon each other; swing and score meld into harmony; what is to come follows upon what has been...scratch golf!
The wise golfer sets an example by emptying the mind, opening the heart, relaxing ambitions, relinquishing desires, cultivating character and keeping head down. There is no greater calamity than hook, no greater curse than slice.
The weak putt overcomes the strong. The soft putt overcomes the hard. Everyone knows this, but none have the ability to practice it. Golf is a whirling emptiness; yet, when played, it cannot be exhausted but can result in a gimmee.
Know the universe as your self, and you can golf absolutely anywhere in comfort. Love the course as your self, and you'll be able to care for it properly. This is the way of golf: Do your work, replace your divots, then quietly step back. If you compete with no one, no one can compete with you.
The perfect swing is formless form, un-seeable image, elusive, evasive unimaginable mystery. Confront it, and you won't see "the shanks.” Follow it, and you can't find a bogey. Perceive its ancient subtle heart, and you become master of the game. Know what came before time, and the beginning of a hole in one is yours.
A caddy is subtle, intuitive, penetrating, profound. His depths are mysterious and unfathomable. The best one can do is describe his appearance: The caddy is alert as a person crossing a winter stream; as circumspect as a person with neighbors on all four sides; as respectful as a thoughtful guest...well, perhaps Steve Williams excepted.
The greatest virtue is to follow golf, and only golf. You might say, "But golf is illusive! Evasive! Mysterious! Dark! How can one follow that?" By following this: Out of silent subtle mystery emerge birdies. These birdies coalesce into eagles. Within each eagle is contained the seed and essence of life. Thus do all eagles emerge and expand out of darkness and emptiness.
Because its essence is real and evident in the origins of all things, the game of golf has survived since the beginning of time.
This is not the first visit by Asheville, NC’s Rick Vogel to these pages, but it is the first time he’s gone all metaphysical on us. You might recall his treatise on golf ball hunting earlier this year, one of the most commented upon articles in the history of Golf Community Reviews (Rick swears the letters weren’t all written by his relatives). Although he is not a golfer, Rick lives on a golf course in North Carolina where he is teaching his dog Goldie to hunt for golf balls and quote Confucius...or is it David Carradine?