Regretfully, I missed another Mass last week. Being an unconfirmed, unlearned interloper within the Catholic faith, I feel I’m probably already more inclined to be absent amongst the pews than my more regular cathedral mates; but recently I’ve come to the conclusion there is another explanation to my less than perfect attendance.
The past few weeks my Sundays have been spent on the golf course, and barring the tin cupesque meltdown I had a couple weeks ago, they’ve been much more satisfying both spiritually and for my handicap. Now I obviously can’t speak for how God feels about my receiving spiritual fulfillment on the golf course as opposed to a worship house, but maybe after I’ve laid out how I reached this conclusion he’ll be a little less likely to cast me out of his eternal favor.
- Golf reveals all the shortcomings within myself that I need to work on with The Lord.
Like any mortal, I’m not perfect. Not even close. And there’s nothing that brings my imperfection to center stage quite like a round of golf. It’s all laid out there, my physical flaws, my personality flaws, the sins of my soul, everything. Golf shows me what I need to work on to become a better man, not just from tee to green. What’s even better, it does so in a community environment so that not only can God himself watch me rise to the pinnacle of humanness, so too can my foursome. If I’m quick tempered, my score will reflect it. If I’m prideful and pull driver when a 3wood will suffice, or think that a smoked 7iron is the club when it’s playing 175 into the wind, my score will reflect it. Just as the respective clergyman reminds us that we cannot walk this path alone, so too does the course remind me that I am ill suited to traverse these fairways without divine guidance.
- Golf is an introspective journey
Often during a service, there is time to consider one’s self, to ponder why you are there, and just what it is exactly you seek from The Lord. During a round, this is the entire time. At any point I am forced to examine myself and determine what it is I need to succeed, and what is keeping me from that success. And throughout all of this, is God watching, and guiding, and laying a path that I might be able to find if I could just get my shit together and find a fairway. Golf is a one man sport. I can’t blame the place kicker for missing the PAT. It’s not the second baseman’s fault for whiffing some high cheese with the bases loaded. It’s me. Me. And God. Therefore, if I struggle there’s one person to blame. If I can’t get up and down from pin high there’s one person I need to talk to, shoutout to you Lord.
- Golf is physically and spiritually satisfying
Just as the right sermon or song can stir the deepest of emotions, so too can a flushed shot bring out every ounce of positivity within someone. The amount of fulfillment I get from immersing myself amongst my friends within nature has to be akin to the Pope baptizing Manhattan Island. There’s really something about taking all that God has given you, in a place created by the Lord himself, and maximizing your potential. To watch an iron land softly on a manicured green, catch the line and creep towards the cup is a feeling only those who have been gripped with the Holy Spirit of Salvation can even begin to try to compare. To shoot a solid round, to do exactly what you drew up in your head is in a way to send up an offering to The Lord. To maximize the potential of His landscape, and the tools He has provided you both mentally and physically is to seek His favor.
- It is a communal space
Like a worship house, a course is shared property. You are out there with some of your best friends, your closest confidantes. And like church, it is important to remember why you are there. For some, the course is merely the hosting site for the greater act of fellowship, while others carefully choose their kinsmen to join them in their sacred activity, similar to how some people choose their place of worship because of the community element it provides.
Despite all of this, I still acknowledge the necessity in attending a proper place of worship. Just as I am ill suited for this blog, I am even more ill suited for life without the guidance given through regular attendance at church. But, it is comforting to know that the tenets of faith extend beyond the doors of the cathedral. God’s all around us y’all, and if you’re looking for Him between the tee and the green, you can find me there in the pews, probably off in the rough.