This book has been called “a meditation” on the game. It includes history, instruction, and how to approach golf from emotional, physical, and spiritual perspectives. Please consider it for yourself, or to give as a gift. Thank you.
“Entertaining and informative, The Mindful Golfer expresses ideas very much in synch with Zen Golf in a playful and engaging way.”
— Dr. Joe Parent, author of Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game
Whether you take your game to Turnberry or Tasmania, another old saying prevails—wherever you go, there you are. Meaning that there’s no escape from where your golf is really unfolding. It’s all in your head.
Though he was speaking mainly of competitive golf, Bobby Jones had it right for any player when he said that the game takes place, “…mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.”
Jones was not a Buddhist, but Stephen Altschuler would probably give him a free meditation mat for the sentiment. The latter’s new book, The Mindful Golfer (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99) is all about the game as it’s played on that five-and-a-half-inch course.
Altschuler is a student of Buddhism, a mental health counselor and a long-time golfer. He combines all of that experience and his writing talents here to try and help us be better golfers and, hey, while we’re at it, better human beings.
The subtitle is “How to Lower Your Handicap While Raising Your Consciousness,” which may immediately sound intimidating to some. Have no worries. There’s no need here for renunciation or sackcloth and ashes.
Altschuler is certainly trying to help golfers get in a better frame of mind using Buddhist constructs, but he manages to do this with the greatest good humor and a complete lack of cant, as this one brief passage might suggest: “…the [golf] course is not only a place of fun and relaxation but also a place of high drama. And you’d better have your proverbial shit together if you want to come out of the experience with any modicum of self-respect and pride.”
Altschuler was once a good enough golfer to consider turning pro, but another life path was (maybe) preordained for him. Anyway, his game suffered. But that only underlined one of Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths: “…all human beings suffer, a truth felt all too often during any given round of the great game.”
One merely need consider the muffed chip: “There is usually a deep silence after such a disastrous shot, a silence that almost resonates through the cosmos. The black hole of the flubbed chip, sucking all into its vortex. Beings light years away turn their heads toward that silence, noticing the faint gasp of pain uttered by its source.”
Altschuler is equally eloquent about the shank, but it’s not all bad news. He also reveals golf to be a game of elation, and suggests ways for the everyday golfer to approach a mental state more open to success than failure.
The book is more instructive than instruction, essays on being more aware, more present, less attached to the outcome of shots. It’s not necessarily material we haven’t seen before from other golf psychologists and counselors. But it is packed with plenty of examples from the author’s own travails and the trials and triumphs of touring pros, written in an engaging and anecdotal style. And for that, Altschuler earns the sound of two hands clapping.
This review by Tom Bedell of The A Position
This piece originally appeared in the August-September 2015 issue of Golf Oklahoma magazine, in slightly different form.
ABOUT: Tom Bedell
Tom has written about golf and golf travel for American Airlines’ luxury magazine Celebrated Living since 1999, and for Travel & Leisure Golf, Golf Connoisseur, Virtuoso Life, Lexus Magazine, Acura Style, Tee It Up, American Way, The Met Golfer and many others. Before his first golf article, Tom had established his chops as a beer expert; as far as he knows he remains the only member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the North American Guild of Beer Writers.
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