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Golf Is An Adventure

Golf Is An Adventure

The adventure isn’t just in some faraway land. It’s right outside your backdoor, and it’s in between your ears. You just have to seek it.

Erik Anders Lang

I have not been playing golf for that many years. I started just over ten years ago. Ten years is my measurement of golf — 25% of my life to date. Maybe I can get that up to 50% or 60% by the time I am done.

Reminds me of that quote: “It’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years.” So what if golf was not measured in years? What if instead of asking someone, “How long have you been playing?”, we asked them, “How many people have you played with?” Or, “What do you really need to experience before you go?” 

“How many people have you gotten into the game?”
“How many short par fours have you gone for?”

Tiger was on an adventure behind the 16th green at Augusta. Jiménez was on an adventure behind the Road Hole. Watson was on an adventure in the rough at Pebble’s 17th.

What if golf IQ was a measurement of experience, of risk, of pleasure, of service?

Notice — not how many greens you hit, but how many attempts you made. You see, this experience of golf has the measurements all wrong. I come to you after a round and tell you that I shot 78 from the blacks. You either don’t care or you compare. And somehow the game is ONLY measured in strokes. Now, there’s a question you can ask your new playing partner: how old were you when you realized that strokes was not the best way to measure the game? Where were you when you realized that golf is just a medium? Who were you with when you realized what golf is a medium for? 

In truth, golf at its simplest form is just that: just all of those questions. The simplest question it asks us is, “Where will my ball fly today? Where will my ball take me today?” And in the process of following that little ball lies (drumroll please) the adventure.

All adventure, in my experience, starts with a question. What’s over here? I wonder what that is like? What would happen if we did this? Adventure is also — by definition —unplanned. So is golf, as soon as the driver strikes your ball on the first tee. It’s an unplanned trip into territories unknown. When the ball lands in a spot you’ve not been to yet, you — if you look at from the right angle — are on a little adventure.

Tiger was on an adventure behind the 16th green at Augusta. Jiménez was on an adventure behind the Road Hole. Watson was on an adventure in the rough at Pebble’s 17th.

Perhaps your adventures are of a more social nature. You meet the characters of your story on the first tee, and by the 18th the novel is complete. Or maybe that’s just Chapter One. I’ve heard stories of lovers meeting for the first time, grinding away on a desolate driving range in a small town, or getting engaged at a small tournament in Georgia. 

Stories are like that, too. They live larger in the telling. Each time Grandpa Jack tells the story of his ace, the hole gets longer and the wind gets stronger. And that is why we do it. To carry the story of adventure with us. Wherever we go, we are just begging for an ear to hear about it. Those ears are at the 19th hole in every country that has a flag, and — yes, you got it — that’s part of the adventure too. 

That’s one of the best parts of a good adventure. That it lives long past its expiration date. We extract so much from these stories of our lives that their worth far outweighs their cost. In fact, I would venture to say that the value of adventure is worth more than the costs of just living. Adventure was the only purpose, and the wonderful part there is that it demands to be done. That’s why you see so many people with a simple solution at Bethpage Black: “I’ll sleep in my car.”

And funny enough, the simple concept of ‘adventure’ turns any situation into a wild tale, from what might otherwise have just been a terrible nightmare or worse — forgettable. One of my most satisfying holes of golf was an 11 I made at Western Gailes. On about the sixth stroke, with the hole still very far away, I grasped that concept of adventure in my eyes and hands and my vision shifted from negative to positive. I was immediately six years old. That’s what adventure does. It’s your fountain of youth. And so by that definition, it’s just a state of mind. Or the lack of mind. Surely, ration and logic are clean, rarely used tools in the adventurer’s kit. 

On you go.

DIRECTIONS FOR ADVENTURE:

In the effort of simplicity, here are step by step instructions on how to create an adventure. 

1. Open your mind to what is positive and possible.
2. Remember that the challenge alone is why that club found your fingers.
3. The worse the struggle, the greater the story.
4. Take notes along the way to use as a basis for your embellishments.
5. Only keep score of the things you actually care about.
6. Ask only and frequently the questions that are really on your mind.
6b. Listen to the answers, if you didn’t hear them ask them to repeat.
7. Remember each time you tee it up, this could easily be your last round. 
8. Scream or sing on your final tee shot.
9. Give silent thanks after your final shot.
10. Accept all invitations no matter how absurd.
11. Ask your partners early on what their nicknames are.
12. Find a new way to measure your own golf game and tell people about it.
13. Let go of the club (see: outcome).
14. When fear strikes, hit it hard with curiosity. That always wins.
15. Missed opportunities are the most expensive things in life.
16. Missed putts — especially the short ones — call for Rule 17b.
17. If you bring a bad hole with you, just leave your club in the bag. Consult rule 17b.
17b. One must laugh at the bad shots.
18. Read a quote on the first tee in a loud voice.
19. Write a haiku on your scorecard and leave it behind with your phone number.
20. Always, always, always send it.

– E

View Comments (16)
  • You are so good for this game and what the future holds for it. I am honored to be an Ambassador!

  • Great article. For me the adventure is about the people and meeting with your mates, as well as others that you’ve never met before, after a long week at work, on vacation or one long summer evening and maximum daylight. Especially in Scotland!

  • Very well said Eric. I’m a new subscriber to your channel, and your channel is the real meaning of golf. I love the Shot by Shot series. It’s real, it has the missed opportunity and the gained successes when a perfect shot is made. Your statement above is the truth, getting out and finding yourself doing a great sport.
    Eric, thank you, and your team for all your hard work to bring us what golf is all about. My guy.

  • This is exactly what I needed to read before getting a tube and a train to play the cheapest course within travelling distance of where I am currently living in London. Love the YouTube vids and will be reading as many of these articles as you have time to write Erik. As a relatively new, and not great, golfer your content has kept me going through the many rounds of scoring the highest or playing outright dreadful. Keep it up man and if you ever need a 100+ golfer to play with in the UK I would be happy to catch as many tubes and trains as it takes. All the best, Joe.

  • I loved this article! So beautifully articulated…
    Golf is pure fun & adventure!. I’m totally new to the game (10 months.)
    So I’m a big fan of instruction #1 and rule 17b. I measure & cherish my golf adventures by the number of rounds I get to play with my parents or 15 year-old son…and each time I muster the courage to sign up as a single player and tee off with strangers… .

  • I just started golfing earlier this year and have been struggling with the mental aspect. Lately I’ve been trying to stay positive, laugh at myself, and just enjoy being out there. I needed to read this right now. Cheers!

    • Well done Patrick! Check out EAL’s podcast where he interviews Dr. Parent about his book, Zen Golf – it is a good example of how golf is 100% whatever you make it.

      • Thanks a bunch Seth! The podcast really hit home and Zen Golf is on the way. So much of it resonates with me. Glad to have this introduced as a beginner.

  • I have been hooked on the ethos and spirit of RGC since EAL and still enjoy the ride. Golf can be a sport filled with comparing and judgement, but it can also be a game or round with strangers who become your biggest cheering squad. It is all in the Random assortment of folks you get paired with, and most importantly, the vibe and energy the group takes. We all have a part to play in that energy in the round. I love following along, listening to Erik’s laugh when he makes a stroke unintended (for me, its a regular routine of unintended results, but as stated above, opportunities to place even MORE of the course in different ways, lies and hazards. I’m excited to play Edgewood in Lake Tahoe, CA with a dear friend next weekend. I’m also excited to see how many of my new GRC Character balls find themselves new homes out there on that course – perhaps some lucky folks who pick them up will find themselves here wondering what RGC is all about, and that my friends, is another win.

  • If every shot was teed up high & every shot a straight ‘un
    Then every game would be the same , no round a truly great ‘un
    Golf goes you see to life’s own ditty
    WITH OUT THE ROUGH, THERE’ D BE NO PRETTY.

    (A GOLFERS MORAL)

  • Great article Erik, constantly being able to bring fresh light to this game is something not many people can do, but you do it very well. It is very important to realize the importance of letting the last shot go.

  • I’ll be traveling to Seattle this summer with hopes to play a round of golf wherever I can find one. Thanks for the inspiration and these directions! They will come in handy.

  • For me, golf is empowering because I have the chance for greatness on every tee. I get to feel like I’m great at something. Mind you I’ve had 3 straight rounds of mulligan-free 92, and have never broken 90. So there’s that.
    But ultimately, it shouldn’t be about the numbers. I can so easily get caught up in the illusion that an early on triple means I’m throwing away the scorecard and that the round is shot. There’s even more opportunity for greatness, for redemption when you are off your game. And that’s probably how one (or at least a guy like me) gets better, getting up and down from 50 yards to save a triple. My last time out marked the first full round that did not feature me losing a golf ball. That’s huge! It really was an adventure getting out of a few bunkers and almost hitting the group ahead after a downhill 5 iron sailed almost 250. Definitely not planned. Still have no idea how that happened. On another hole, I nearly lost my ball but had enough time to find it.
    I’m learning to love the game in a more meaningful way. Sometimes I hate it, but I don’t think you can really love it without hating it every so often. Still setting my sights on getting better and feeling better about myself on the course, and that’s my adventure. Greatness and adventure do not require a score, a number. Just getting out there and accepting the challenge is enough.
    Keep up the fantastic work. It has been a true blessing to me.

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