To play at the top of his or her game, a golfer’s mind must be clear and focused on the shot at hand. Many golfers focus on a swing thought (“head down-arm straight,” “back-and-through”, “finish high”) to help them maintain position or rhythm through their swing.
Swing thoughts can be great if you are able to limit their number to one per swing. Beyond one, a golfer’s brain becomes a swirling, noisy mess of voices that produces errant shots, thrown clubs and lost wagers.
I love the idea of swing thoughts, but find them difficult to execute, as my already profound internal dialogue is exacerbated by my upbringing in a devout Catholic home and twelve years of Catholic school.
While I am extremely and eternally grateful for my parents and education, I am equally certain that the guilty Catholic voices in my head are responsible for at least 5 strokes of my 15 index. This is why my Protestant friends should give me two extra shots per side.
Charlie don’t surf. And the Pope don’t Golf. Here are my Top 5 Catholic Swing Thoughts:
- “I don’t deserve to make this putt.” With war in Syria, Mali, Afghanistan, and people starving everywhere, how can I even think that God should want me to make this straight, uphill 4-footer? I should have given up golf for Lent.
- “I hope my mother never finds out how much I paid to get into to this club…” When I was 14 I told my saintly mother that I wanted to buy a Porsche someday. In a household of eight wherein ziploc bags and tin foil were washed and re-used, this was the financial equivalent of telling her that I wanted a pet dinosaur. Her reply was basically, “Could you really drive a car that expensive in good conscience, knowing you could give that same money to feed the poor and hungry?” Here I am 30 years later with the resources to buy a dinosaur farm but lacking the will to actually buy that Porsche. Which is why I drive a Mercedes.
“I should have told my wife I was playing today – she’ll figure it out somehow anyway.” Come on, it’s not like I’m cheating on her. I didn’t tell her anything that was untrue. I just left the house with my golf shoes buried in my gym bag (I leave my clubs in the car to empower these temptations). If not telling my wife I’m golfing is a sin, it’s a sin of omission at worst. So why does her accusatory face keep appearing in my brain as I stand over this 110-yard wedge shot? Why didn’t I just tell her? Here’s why – because I want her to regard me as an over-worked schlub who never has fun and sacrifices his own personal happiness to work hard for his family….like all Catholic dads.
- “I Should be at Church.” It’s a sunny, blue-skied 73-degree Sunday morning in early March. I really should be inside a dank old building, inhaling incense, mumbling prayers, and focusing on my sins instead of enjoying the outdoors, laughing with my friends, and generally appreciating life. Me being here on this beautiful manicured golf course is wrong.
- “Masturbation is still a sin?” Wasn’t this doctrine over-turned a decade ago after all those priests got busted? Didn’t The Vatican just go, “okay – let’s just call this one even – wank away!” It would have saved me a lifetime’s worth of guilt, fueled by the mantra, “God is watching.” If so, I hope He can help me find that ball that just went into the woods. As importantly, why am I thinking about masturbation on the golf course?