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Golf and the Spirit: Lessons for the Journey [Paperback]

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Item description for Golf and the Spirit: Lessons for the Journey by M. Scott Peck...

In an enlightening and witty handbook, the best-selling author of The Road Less Traveled discusses what golf can teach us about some of life's most important lessons, revealing how golf teaches us how to work through anger, accept the gift of humility, change ingrained behavior, and more. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.

Publishers Description
Golf. It's the ultimate head game. And when nothing but the best advice will do, along comes M. Scott Peck, M.D., the celebrated psychiatrist and author of the best-selling self-help book of all time, The Road Less Traveled.

In Golf and the Spirit, M. Scott Peck writes a book for beginners and masters alike--and even for nongolfers. It goes beyond mechanics to explore the deeper issues, ways of successfully managing the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of this most wonderful, maddening, deflating, and inspiring game.

Playing side by side with M. Scott Peck on an imaginary course of his own design--complete with illustrations of each hole--you will come to see the profound truths in this seemingly simple game. Appreciate that life is not linear. Come to understand your own anger and how to heal that which gets in your way. Accept the gifts of humility. Appreciate kenosis, the process by which the self empties itself of self. Benefit from teachers. Know that in weakness often there is strength. Realize that to experience the blessings of golf and life fully, you must accept the divinity that underlies all things.

Like the best-selling volumes of Harvey Penick and Michael Murphy, Golf and the Spirit makes a unique contribution to the literature of golf and life. It goes beyond the body to address the heart and soul of the game, creating a rare opportunity for transformation in the lives of its readers, both on and off the fairway.

It seems to me the human condition is most basically that we are willful creatures living in a world that, much of the time, doesn't behave the way we want it to. We live in the tension between our will and reality. Sometimes with great effort and expertise, we can change reality or bend it to our will. At other times--also with great effort and expertise--it is we who must change by coming to accept the limitations of the world and of ourselves. How we do this--how we deal with the hazards of life--is quite akin to how we deal with the hazards of a golf course.

Sooner or later golfers who stick with the game long enough will almost always come to see it as a metaphor for life. But the word metaphor fails to do justice to all that golf has to teach us. I would go even further and say that, in its own way, golf is life and, not only that, life condensed. If we choose to use it as such, I believe that golf, next to marriage and parenthood, can routinely be the greatest of life's learning opportunities.
M. Scott Peck, M.D., is the author of several New York Times best-sellers, including The Road Less Traveled, which has spent more than ten years on the Times list and is arguably the most influential spiritual book of modern times. He and his wife, Lily, live in northern Connecticut and have been the recipients of several awards for peacemaking.

Once there was a man of limited imagination who considered the progress of life to be straightforward.

To the proverbial man from Mars, golf would seem the most linear of all human activities. For example, it is the only common game I know where the player with the lowest score wins. The whole point, apparently, is to get the ball from here (a tee) to there (a hole in a green) as directly as possible. Generally, it is obvious that the straighter the passage of that little ball from the tee to the hole, the fewer times the player will have to hit it and, hence, the greater her or his sense of accomplishment. Then the golfer will move on to the tee of the next allotted space of terrain (or "hole") and repeat the same linear process all over again. And again. And again.

A few practicing human golfers actually do envision the game in this manner. Usually they are male. They are the "chargers." They advance directly along the course, their eyes only on the hole ahead, plowing forward with maximum speed, as if driven by a mule. They are generally not having much fun. They are also often not playing very well, either.

This is because the reality--unlike the appearance--is that golf is probably the most nonlinear pastime on the face of the earth. This book is devoted to that reality. Consequently, it will be the most nonlinear book I've ever written. For those of you who have trouble tolerating anything that isn't clearly straightforward, I suggest you stop now. Throw in the towel. Quit. And don't look for much from golf.

This is not a "how to" book. You will read herein almost nothing about how to grip a golf club properly, and very little about how to swing one. Or hit from a downhill lie. Or get out of a sand trap with dignity. Moreover, my lawyers have firmly advised me not to give you any guarantee whatsoever that anything I have to say will improve your game by a single stroke.

This is a "how not to" book.

Human beings have amazingly different personalities. Why this is so--to what degree it is a fact of nature (genes) or nurture (how their parents raised them)--even as an experienced psychiatrist, I don't have the foggiest idea. In any case, certain people--like the pros--seem almost to have been born to play golf well. Others have personalities that make them bound to play the game poorly.

Learning how to play golf with the slightest decency or pleasure has been for me a continual battle against my own personality. This is what has made me an expert. I am an expert on how not to play golf.

Why, you may naturally wonder, would anyone spend an enormous amount of time and money "playing" at something he will never be very good at, something that may often be humiliating? Ah, there you have it. The answer is in the question: I play golf precisely because it is humiliating. While I don't enjoy being humiliated, I do need it.

There's another word for what golfers go through that's even stronger than humiliation: mortification. It is derived from mors, the Latin word for "death," as is the term mortician for "undertaker." To be mortified is to feel so humiliated that you would rather bury yourself deep in the nearest sand trap than ever show your face on a golf course again.

In the good (or not so good) old days, certain Roman Catholic monks and nuns and a few others used to practice mortification as a discipline. They defined it as the discipline of "daily dying." Some of their techniques, such as wearing hair shirts, self-flagellation, and floor licking, were indeed masochistic. Yet I believe they were onto something--something we have generally forgotten but still very much need.

They practiced mortification deliberately in order to learn humility. Another word in theology gets more to the heart of the matter: kenosis. Kenosis is defined as "the process of the self emptying itself of self." In doing battle on the golf course against my own personality--against my ego, if you will--I am attempting to practice kenosis: getting myself out of my own way. It is what spiritual growth is all about.

In this book there will eventually be much more about kenosis, this struggle of self against self. For the moment let it suffice to say that, among other reasons, I play golf because it is for me a highly useful spiritual discipline. Indeed, given the fact that it is so humiliating, I doubt I could play it at all unless I envisioned it as a spiritual discipline. And I am suggesting that you too might want to regard the game in this light.

So what you have here from me is yet one more "spiritual growth" book.

And while there are no guarantees, reading it might just enable you to take a dozen strokes or more off your score. Or at least persist in your attempt to do so. And for some of you, even to take up the game as a beginner.

What's so wrong with my personality that I need to empty myself of parts of it? My anger, just for starters. I am a very determined person. That's not all to the bad, but I tend to get very angry when things don't go just my way.

Things like golf balls.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Three Rivers Press
Pages   326
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.02 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 16, 2000
Publisher   Three Rivers Press
ISBN  0609805665  
ISBN13  9780609805664  

Availability  0 units.

More About M. Scott Peck

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! M. Scott Peck, M.D., is the author of several "New York Times" best-sellers, including The Road Less Traveled, which has spent more than ten years on the Times list and is arguably the most influential spiritual book of modern times. He and his wife, Lily, live in northern Connecticut and have been the recipients of several awards for peacemaking.

M. Scott Peck lived in New Preston, in the state of Connecticut. M. Scott Peck was born in 1936 and died in 2005.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Self-Help > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( P ) > Peck, M. Scott
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
4Books > Subjects > Sports > Coaching > Golf > Psychology
5Books > Subjects > Sports > General
6Books > Subjects > Sports > Golf > General
7Books > Subjects > Sports > Miscellaneous > Sports Psychology

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Books > General Interest > General Topic > Reference

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Reviews - What do customers think about Golf and the Spirit: Lessons for the Journey?

quite good, better than expected  Jul 7, 2005
I loved this book, having just gotten into golf a year and a half ago, and being somewhat of a Christian mystic, with shades of being a Zen Buddist, which he was, and sortof still seems to be. The book was so intriguing that I chose to read it slowly, wanting to savor it. I would say that it even was helpful to my golf game, though he offers not so much advice on how to play, technically. They say, whoever they are, that one's true nature is revealed on the golf course, and that is what this book was so helpful in revealing. quite a lovely read, very thought provoking, very spiritual, and very respectful towards a wonderful game. and most important, perhaps, very funny.
An enjoyable experience for a non-golfer  Sep 21, 2004
I really enjoyed this book, although I am not a golfer. I read it because I enjoy the M. Scott Peck's other work. I found that it excited me about golf at whatever level I end up being involved with it in the future---as a spectator, as a friend of a golfer, or even as a player someday.

As a golfer's adult daughter, I confess that in the past I have thought that golf was just a "silly rich man's game" done for the amusement of those who have nothing better to do. This book blew apart my misconception that was, frankly, based on a total ignorance of the game. This book explains the connection between golf and life, the mysticism involved in the game, and how golf can be a great game just in itself, and too, as so much more.

M. Scott Peck uses his design of a fantasy golf course called Exotica as a literary device to muse about what he has learned from many years of playing. He starts with the first hole, describes it, and writes related things about golfing and life and relationships and mysticism. As he goes, he explains the game so that people like me who have no idea about golf terminology can follow and appreciate what he is saying. He brings in a religious focus too at times, but an intensely personal one (he is a Christian and calls God "Her"), so that each reader can evaluate his religious ponderings in light of their own religious beliefs and see what would hold true for them.

This is not a book about golf tips or instruction, although there is some of this that is really interesting; it is a unique view of golf through the eyes of a long-time golfer that I admire. He is not an especially good golfer (although dedicated) and he is older (60's), too; I loved this perspective as it is where I will be if I do indeed learn to golf! I have learned much from the author in this book, and am eager to become more involved in the world of golf (which surprises me greatly)!

One thing I have already done is bought the book used on audio tape from this site to listen to, and am looking to hearing it all again---it's that type of book---I expect to get even more out of it the second time around.

If you are considering taking up golf, or wonder why people play it and think of yourself as just not that type...perhaps you are even a "golf widow" or golfer's adult child...then this is a great book, especially if you are spiritually or intellectually oriented, or if you like Peck's other work.
A Hole In One!  May 26, 2003
I listened (more than once) to the very well read audio tapes while traveling. You must pay attention the detail is superb.

As a golfer for 46 years and earning three letters at Indiana University, I can attest that golf can teach a great deal about life, pursuing happiness, developing patience and spiritual growth if you go beyond your score. Especially as you take the competition out of golf can you realize what this game has to offer and how you can grow as a person from it.

Peck designs a wonderful exotic golf course with all the hazards and obstacles similar to which you find in life. He provides great analogies, excellent knowledge of the game which can help someone unfamiliar with the sport, and makes it all very interesting. The tapes are excellent because you can go back again and again, each time gaining new insights to golf and yourself.

A great companion reader to Golf and the Spirit tapes is Pecks book, "The Road Less Traveled." Happy reading and Spiritual growth.

Peck makes the cut  Jan 3, 2001
If you like Peck and like to play golf, this book is a tap in birdie. More about life and golf as spiritual journeys than about technical golf, Peck connects golf (life condensed) and our spiritual side. Very readable and humorous at times with basic practical tips for golf and life woven in throughout the round. It may inspire you to approach your next round differently and possible apply some of the ideas to your non-golf life. Great book for spiritually alive golfers.
Enjoyed very much  Dec 15, 2000
I'm a long time fan of Dr. Peck's books and also a golfer. I was so pleased to see he had written this book and enjoyed it very much. Hate to see all the negative reviews, it's just an fun and inspiring book.

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