Less is More

I’m giving myself permission to be a bit geeky here. Indulge me, please.

I like to golf. No, I don’t like the elitism of golf. It has grown to an experience that tends to be for the privileged — though I’m a city links person myself. And it has become a venue in which many courses simply do not sit in alignment with environmental need. Green fairways amidst desert red rock are very beautiful, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

That said, I love the game of golf. The game and the experience. A set of sticks. A ball. A hole. Put the ball in the hole. Spin the ball left. Spin it right. There is a simplicity that I appreciate. I love the feeling of a good golf shot — it still feels a bit miraculous, just like it does in the common experience of a 200 ton airplane taking flight.

I have been golfing for more than forty years, beginning first with my Grandma in a small town in Saskatchewan during summer holidays as a 10 ish year-old. Forty plus years of anything makes it sound like one should be a pro. Nope. Far from it for me. Golf is as much a practice as it is a game. I’m a bogey golfer. That makes me good enough to hit some good and even great shots. That makes me bad enough to hit some embarrassing shots too, you’d think would be reserved for beginners. They aren’t. That’s golf, and what makes most of us laugh together (and sometimes swear).

In forty plus years (for me it is typically two times a month between March and November), one of the key lessons I have learned and continue to learn, is the simple truth that less is more. Less is more. It is a game that can teach one a lot about greed. “Just ten yards further — if I swing just a bit harder….” At my level of ability, that extra effort typically results in more error (spraying it right, pulling it left, or just chunking it) and less distance.

Less is more. Easy swing. Solid contact. Nice line. Good distance.

You see, golf is an amazingly intricate game in which the slightest shift in one thing can change a lot. Keep in mind that there are about 30 little things at one time that are all in play together. Grip on the club. Stance in relation to the ball. Tempo of swing. Plane of backswing. Grip on shoes. None of them by themselves are complex. Yet taken in relationship with all the others, it can be very complex.

Golf teaches me. The game, yes. It’s satisfying to have a good game. It occurs to me because, for that moment, I’ve given myself to less is more, being in the practice, that tends to result in lower score.

The application of this is plentiful. In life. In community. In work. In teams. It is a bold and challenging question — I’d say essential — to ask ourselves. Are there areas (now) where we can agree, and practice, that less is more?

Just a ball, a club, and a hole.