This morning I was taking my weekly six-mile hike in the hills south of town. Six miles up hill and down dale. When I’m out there, my mind wanders to places I never expect. This morning it struck me that golf is a language.
When we study a new language, we learn vocabulary and the rules of grammar. But at the same time we learn how to apply those things to speaking the language.
Because, knowing a set of words and the rules for putting them together is not enough for expressing a coherent thought in the new language. We have to learn how to speak in sentences that mean something.
In golf, shot-making skills are analogous to vocabulary and grammar. They are what allow us to play the game.
But still we have to learn how to play. We have to learn, for particular situation, what shot to hit, with what club, and to where. And if conditions are unusual, we also have to know how to hit the shot.
Playing, in my analogy, corresponds to speaking.
Conditions at the driving range are pretty normal. You just aren’t going to encounter all the different situations a golf course will throw at you.
Only by playing can you learn how to take out of your bag of tricks the right one at the right time.
Golf then is a matter of (a) developing skills and (b) learning how to use them on the golf course.
All this sounds obvious, but let me ask you. How much attention do you pay on the course to what works and doesn’t work, compared to doing the same thing at the range? Not as much, maybe?
It doesn’t matter how good you look at the range. The only question is, when you take your range skills to the course, how well do you use them to get the ball in the hole?
How well do you speak the language of golf?