Spiritual Golf

Ian Johnston

For many years, the charms of golf, for the player or the spectator, remained beyond my comprehension. After a brief trial playing the game, I abandoned it decades ago, and if I caught television coverage of a major tournament, I quickly moved on to something else. The undeniable popularity of the sport was one of those great mysteries of modern life. Then, I had an insight, which all of a sudden opened up my eyes. It came to me in the same way divine illumination came to John Bunyan, in a dream, for, as I looked, lo, I gazed and saw that golf is the secular embodiment of the most basic living metaphor of radical Protestantism. It permits one to experience, without the tedious necessity of going to chapel, the most powerful message lurking in the fierce and narrow Puritan heart, life as a solitary odyssey in which the flawed soul of the faithful is sternly put to the test. It is, in other words, the recreational equivalent of the Pilgrim’s Progress