Am I really going to write about golf this week? This is the thought that emerged as I sat down to write this weekend. It all started as I was decluttering Emily’s room and came across a few golf balls. They were strategically placed where Emily could not access them (and too high for me to easily reach). Out of sight and out of mind. Well, the site of the golf balls reminded me of the interactions in which we acquired them.
One of Emily’s top three activities is being pushed in her wheelchair out in the community. It is up there with riding on the bus or in the car. When Emily is engaged in these activities, she is focused. She engages with her surroundings and watches people intently. Emily observes everything that is happening around her. Generally, she is calmer and quieter during these activities.
Due to my ongoing foot issues (a story for another time) and having a job, I have tried to make sure Emily gets out of the house and walks. During the summer, one of Emily’s favorite friends, Erica, took Emily on many walks. When they returned home from one of these adventures, Erica tells us that a golfer gave Emily a golf ball. She says that the golfer walked from his game to meet them at the fence between the golf course and the sidewalk. He tells Erica that he noticed Emily and that she spoke to him. He had to come to meet them. The golfer chats with Erica and Emily and then gives Emily a neon yellow golf ball.
Erica tells the story and seems perplexed and also appreciative of this interaction. I let out an audible laugh. I share with Erica that this is not the first time a golfer has done this during Emily’s life. Over the past several years, it has occurred 4 times. We have the golf balls to prove it. This latest situation sparked my curiosity about these interactions. What is it about Emily that speaks to golfers? Why do golfers see her (I mean REALLY see her)?
No one in our house plays golf…anymore. Todd used to play golf before we had children. He quit because it was not relaxing to him. He said a hobby should help you relax and not add stress. I was intrigued by his short-lived experience as a golfer but never pursued why it was challenging to him.
I have heard that golf is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport. Todd’s experience seemed to support that there is a mindfulness aspect to the game. What skills are needed for golf? How do these skills relate to Emily? One golfer reaching out to Emily on our adventures could be a coincidence. Since this has happened on multiple occasions, there has to be a connection.
I started reading articles about golf techniques and skills. In my search, I found an article by David Mackenzie. It did not take me more than a quick glance to think I had found an answer. The article is about the 7 most important mental skills for golf. The first 3 attributes discussed gave me clarity:
- Focus and concentration
- Awareness and being present
- Ability to stay calm
According to David’s article, practicing these skills will improve your golf game.
I would add that practicing these skills will improve your life. I have spent the last three years developing these skills. I would consider myself a novice, but through practice, I am getting better. I am learning the power and gift that come when we focus and concentrate on a single task. I actively practice managing and redirecting my thoughts. I am aware that every circumstance does not require action (or reaction). I am learning to enjoy the moment and observe what it feels like to be in it. Not rushing onto the next thing. Incorporating these skills has enriched my life and my relationships with others.
After reading the article, I came to the unscientific conclusion that the golfers who engage with Emily are skilled at these practices. They have become good at developing focus and awareness. They are taking in the environment that surrounds them. They are concentrating. They are present. From this place, they are open to her energy. They are aware of her observing them and engaging with them without saying a word. Some are called to take action and interact with Emily.
Golfers do not have exclusive access to these practices. They are available to all of us. Practicing these skills helps get us out of our headspace. When we get out of our heads, it changes our perspective. We see things we may not have noticed before. There is nothing that delights me more than witnessing Emily being seen and acknowledged. It is beautiful to observe Emily making a connection with someone. It is magical when that person sees her and responds.