People buy me golf books for gifts, I guess, because they don’t know how much I like ties. Twenty books now and counting.

In one recent one, Extraordinary Golf: The Art of the Possible (Perigree, 1996), Fred Shoemaker gives a lesson worth learning for life. He speaks aloud the haunting mantra of the golfer’s inner voice: “Something is wrong with my game, and I must fix it.”

Drive by any driving range this summer and you will find it packed with golfers desperately seeking solutions to defective swings. The billion dollar (!) golf industry thrives by underscoring the assumption that there is a fix for the flaws in every golfer that once discovered will make for extraordinary golf.

Wrong. There is no perfect swing; every swing is unique, as a fingerprint or a personality. Some pros with the so-called best swings are the best players.

Most of the secret of golf success is between the ears and inside the chest cavity. Mind and heart matter more than the matter of correcting a slice or hitting it longer. You can play a fade and hit more club to score better.

Skills alone never bring down scores or bring up spirit. The better you get the more you expect. A low handicapper can be as miserable playing par golf as a high handicapper shooting 100. Either or both can enjoy the game and play well by changing the whole outlook.

It’s time to challenge the assumption about our perpetual need for a fix.

Someone called you “Fatso” in third grade and although grown-up gangly, you still think you are overweight. Someone tragically violated you, and you think you are to blame for being the kind of person others would want to do things like that to. A spouse leaves you or a teacher fails you or a boss lets you go, and it reinforces that something is wrong with you that must be fixed, or else . . . .

It is not so that something (even sin!) makes you so wrong that, unless fixed through your supreme effort, will send you straight to bogey hell.

When God created Adam and Eve — and you since then — in God’s own image, God did not step back and say “Not quite” or “Not bad.” God said “Very good.” And although sin verily robs the “very good” of the very, it doesn’t cast out the good altogether. The goodness is related to the God-ness of our created nature.

As long as you target your wrongness for fixing, you can’t fix your target on the enjoyable and meaningful life God wants to give you. God is good at working wonders with flawed creations. There are no other kinds.


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