The Swing Is The Thing
Often powerful, sometimes pitiful. A science of action and a source of agony. Gorgeous and gory, sweet and sour, perfection and dejection. The ultimate beauty in the game of golf is the swing. It is the starting point for both joy and sadness.
Address the ball. Position in the feet. Stay flexible. So much to think about and so much to block out. The golf swing is the process of thought and physicality. It is equal parts strength and subtlety. When executed correctly, it is a smooth stroke and a sweet sensation. When performed erroneously, it is a detrimental dud and dubious distraction.
Like politics, sports, and religion, everyone has an opinion about the swing. Think about what you’re doing. Don’t think about what you’re doing. Focus. Forget. Unlike the vicious cut of a baseball slugger, or the roundhouse rawness of a hockey hero’s slap shot, the golf swing has no enemy.
In baseball, the oncoming sphere is moving at a velocity equal to a sports car. In hockey, a sliding or rolling disc of hard rubber is the elusive target. The object of a golfers swing sits motionless on a tee waiting to be set forth into the heavens. Indeed, the little white orb seems defenseless, but while it holds no force of movement, it holds the source of madness.
It’s all in the torso. It’s all in the hips. It’s all in the shoulders. Wrong. The swing is all in the mind. It can be a wiry wonder or a blurry blunder. It makes and breaks, creates and eviscerates. Lifts spirits and drops scores. The careful golfer moves toward the ball and finds the comfort zone.
It’s All In The Mind…
At just the right moment, the club is lifted backwards. All motion stops and the thinking begins. How hard do I come down on the ball? What is my goal here? Am I looking for the security of the fairway or the glory of a hole-in-one? What am I doing? Who am I?
These questions and others smash against the golfer’s brain in a millisecond. The great writer John Updike once opined, “The golf swing is like a suitcase into which we are trying to pack one too many things.” And after all of this mind baggage is jammed into that suitcase, the motion is unleashed.
There is perhaps no more anticipated distance in sports than that few feet between backswing and ball. It can be a fanfare of fluidity or a sensation of stupidity. Thrill or kill. Masterpiece or disaster piece. In the blink of an eye, an entire hole, round, or tournament can be decided. Be it a demanding drive, a wondrous wedge, or perfect putt, the motion set forth with club in hand sets the tone.
The sublime Bobby Jones said, “You swing your best when you have the fewest things to think about.” Easy to say when your swing should hang alongside the Mona Lisa or etched into the Sistine Chapel ceiling like a great work of art.
The outer beauty of the perfect golf swing rivals anything in sports. You can have the galloping grace of an onrushing thoroughbred, the fine flexibility of a well-trained gymnast, or the sleek speed of a slalom skier. I’ll take the golf swing – a fascinating exercise of stillness and movement, brains and brawn, remembering and forgetting, discipline and freedom.
John Molori is an author and columnist for numerous publications. Like him on Facebook at John Molori, Twitter @MoloriMedia. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.