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We all arrive at the course with a liberal dose of hope in the kitty. Hope in our heart on golf’s fairway buzzes within us. This round of golf could be the one. The one that defines us as good golfers. The round where we put it all together over the duration. Four plus hours of putting good strokes and good fortune together in a package, which reeks of victory. This conception sits within us all at the outset of our forays out onto the course.

We carry this buoyant hope in our hearts down the first fairway. Our stride is jaunty, and we enjoy the feel of sunshine and fresh air upon our skin. It feels good to be alive and we have hope in our hearts on golf’s fairway.

Golf’s Promise & Hopefully Finding the Fairway

‘Fairway’, the very term emanates good will and optimism. Golf is supposedly full of fairways. Standing upon the first tee we look down that fairway toward a distant green. This act is one of faith in itself. Faith in our ability to tee up our golf ball and send it on its way down that fairway. Hope hangs in the air like a brightly coloured balloon. The grass is green beneath our feet. On a fine day blue skies and sunshine greet us with their bounty. This is living and we are graced by our presence within the green cathedral. I call it the green cathedral because many golf courses are lined by tall trees reaching up to the sky above. There is something special about playing the game of golf in such beautiful natural surrounds. It is almost holy.

Hopeful Golfers Embarking Upon Their Round

The quiet of golf is abuzz with nature. Birdsong and the hum of insect life abound. We are accompanied, perhaps, by fellow competitors and friends. Each of us on a mission to do our very best that day. Each of us bearing clubs in a bag, which are transported in some way or another via trolley, shoulder strap, or cart. These are our tools, traditionally, made of wood and iron. Now, constructed of graphite and steel to make them stronger and lighter. Fourteen different golf clubs are allowed to be carried in an officially sanctioned game of golf. This large array of tools borne by the player contains individually designed clubs to perform different types of golf shots. Some say this confuses the golfer with too much choice. Others wish for an even greater arsenal of weapons, with which to do battle with the golf course.

“Are You Ready to Do Battle?”


Golf for many is a battle against the elements and the vagaries of geography and nature. I remember an octogenarian golfer at my club who would greet me each competition day with the question, “are you ready to do battle?” He obviously pictured things in this manner, and he had been playing golf for a very long time. Perhaps the word ‘playing’ is a misnomer itself? Like warriors of old we begin with hope in our heart. Hope of a victory. Hope of survival to see another day. Generals and soldiers turned to conceptions of god under this duress. They looked for some advantage over lady luck. Constantine turned to the Christian god to hopefully provide him with victory over his Roman rival in the civil wars plaguing the Empire at that time. This was the turning point for an obscure Jewish cult, which rose to prominence and became the Roman Catholic Church.

a family golfing on hope in our heart's fairway.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

Out on the golf course, with a swing to wield club in the hope of directing ball toward the correct target, we are engaged in a struggle with the principles of physics, according to modern science. Aerodynamic considerations, engineering measurements, and angles are all in play, when we swing those clubs at ball. A small, dimpled sphere is struck by a club face attached to a head on a stick and the rest is a matter of precise contact and channelled force. Close your eyes and hope for the best is another way of looking at it. Prayers are invoked by some during their round of golf on the links. A hell of a lot of cursing is not uncommon also. The number of times I have heard a deity being loudly declaimed is prodigious. ‘Jesus’ gets more mentions in the green cathedral than in many sandstone ones on Sunday I reckon. King James banned the playing of golf on the links in Scotland on Sundays because the game was getting too popular. The Sunday Stick was the solution for keen golfers. This was a reversible walking stick, which had a club head handle for playing strokes on the links when no one was looking. God, of course, is always watching, but probably secretly enjoyed the game herself.

Hope is chipped away at by poor shots and wicked bounces. Sometimes all hope is completely dashed by a single cataclysmic hole and a very large number recorded there.

The low handicap golfer can lose heart quickly in these circumstances. Due to the fact that it is exceedingly hard to claw back strokes in the game of golf. Those Scottish mothers who invented the game, as we know it, knew the value of things down to the last brass penny. It is easy to drop strokes in golf and much more difficult to make birdies and eagles. Good golf demands supreme and unwavering vigilance and concentration.

That hopeful golfer striding down the first fairway is living in a fool’s paradise. He or she is like the business owner prior to the audit by the accountant.

Robert Sudha Hamilton

If all golfers evaluated their rounds via a detailed forensic accounting record, they would not venture out again with any kind of hope in their heart. They would probably give the game away. Luckily, human beings are not made that way (with apologies to accountants). No, we focus on the few bright spots in our memory banks. We inflate our wildly optimistic interpretation of events and sashay out in hope once again. Hope in our hearts on golf’s fairway is like the dementia patient who cannot remember any of the bad stuff.

person golfing with hope in heart to hit the fairway
Photo by Markus Spiske on

Golf is a challenging game. It demands mental and physical adherence to a plan. There are people who play lotto each week with the same set of numbers and there are those who change them up every time. Golf is not a game that you can continually try new things and expect to garner good results. Golfers seek to groove an effective repeating swing. Better golfers practice their short games regularly. They want to be able to rely on their ability to get up and down again. Chip it close and make the putt. Splash out from sand and make the putt. Do whatever it takes to scramble a par.

Golfers grind it out to achieve a good score. The word ‘grind’ is not a friend of hope. Grind and the expectation of fortunate occurrences do not go hand in hand. The hopeful golfer is not an unsympathetic character. We have all been there. The harsh truth, however, is that the golf course is not a bouncy castle. The sharp edges have not been removed. It is tough to bounce back from double and triple bogies.

Snowmen can ice your aspirations on the score card. Double doughnuts can weigh you down with enough calories to handicap your reputation going forward.

Hope is not a dirty word but getting it out of your vocabulary is probably a good idea. Hope in our hearts on golf’s fairway, diminished now, but I reckon it will rise again in time for the next round. We are all suckers for golf’s punishments out on the links.


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