Though many people find the idea of chasing a little white ball around a golf course for 4+ hours as being something close to madness, the reality is that this is more than an activity to just “pass time”. It challenges your skill, patience, perseverance, mental resolve and not alone do you compete with others but you also yourself. People come off a golf course with a wide range of emotions from elation to total frustration and every conceivable feeling in between. At a basic human level it actually fulfills a fundamental human need.
The late Robin Williams is famous for his sketch about golf (click here for great laugh!). Though not for the faint hearted due to his unique style, he takes on the Scottish accent as he hilariously describes the origin of the game. As he does you can see many metaphors about life, it terms of the tools we are given (golf clubs, balls, etc), the challenges we get presented with (trees, bunkers, tiny hole to put ball into, etc) and then the expectations in terms of results (strokes, scorecard, etc). This sounds pretty similar to what happens every day we go to work!
Golf is also about performance and the positive energy that comes from doing something you love. You typically play in front of 3 other people, there might be money on it or it could be a tournament and so the outcome has a consequence. Most golfers are very nervous on the first tee; “oh please just get me to the fairway or I just don’t want to “duff” my first shot”, are pretty common thoughts. Because of this somebody even came up with the idea of having a “mulligan” to offset the first tee nerves. Of course the reason for this is that we all want to do well, experience success and, most importantly, feel good about ourselves.
And finally, the most critical aspect of golf is its social capacity. You get time to spend quality moments with other people and hear about the work, their families and more. Four to five hours with 3 people is a long time and can create many moments of conversation; it is this basic need for community and belonging that is at the very root of our human existence.
I am not suggesting that you run out and buy a set of golf clubs. Rather take a look at your hobbies or things you love to do and make them a key part of your life. These activities are not intended to “pass times” or be gap filers. In truth, they are as critical as everything else you do.