Even an amateur golfer can realize the importance and connection the game of golf can bring to one’s own individual wellbeing.
The book is split into two essays. The first section called “Learning the Game” describes his first time playing the game at the age of 25 from one of his aunts to the second section called “Playing the Game” consisting of short stories he recalls from his past golfing adventures.
Updike makes some very interesting points within the stories he tells about his golfing past. He points out that golf is a sport that people don’t fully understand unless they’ve played the game. You gain an indescribable connection from being out on the course and nothing else compares.
This is a very accurate analysis because many people question why you’d want to roam up and down grassy hills and hit a small white ball into a cup over several hundred yards away. Generally, people wouldn’t understand unless they’ve play the sport to fully appreciate the connection and satisfaction that comes with playing.
Golf is more than just a game, it’s a way of life. When you’re on the course you don’t think about anything else except what your next target is. The game is a escape from reality that challenges you both physically and mentally.
One other aspect of the book that Updike talks about is that every amateur of the game will have a string of bads shots, but then on certain occasions have a brilliant shot and make you wonder why you don’t hit and swing like that every time.
This is completely true, he wouldn’t have realized that without becoming a golfer and playing the game. It’s something that will never become consistent. The pros make the game look easy, but for every other golfer the game is a struggle to find consistent rhythm.
I think Updike’s entire point is that there are only a select few golfers in the world that can play the game at a high level and keep it consisten enough to win. This is while the rest of the golfers in the world are bound by the limitations that everyone else experiences. Just like any sport you have to dedicate your life to becoming the best at your craft and most people don’t do that, but that doesn’t mean golf holds a place in their lives.
Golf has brought pleasure and accomplishment to many people and I believe that is the many thesis to his story. It became part of Updike’s life in a time where he needed it the most and brought him that escape from reality a lot of people crave.
Overall, the book was really inspiring and fascinating because being an amateur golfer myself it was great to read that some of the same experiences I’ve felt on the course is understood by someone else. I would recommend this book even if you’re not a golfer because it’ll give you better knowledge into not just the game, but the mentality that golfers go through and how it can mean so much for them.