Heavenly Golf
By Erika Larkin on 12/11/13
I am taking a detour this week from my normal instructional column to discuss a much deeper and arguably more important topic: "Is there golf in heaven?"

My beloved grandmother passed on this week and if anyone made it through the pearly gates, she did. Even though she was not a golfer, I got to thinking ... will she play golf up there? What would her game be like? Are we all relegated to the level of play we had on Earth or can we enjoy a magically perfect game on perfect courses at all times? God wouldn't allow shanks and duck hooks, would He? Or would He?

It's funny, every golfer and student I know dreams of shooting par and hitting the ball straight and far consistently. If you could actually do that all the time, and have tap-in pars would that even be fun? I've played golf with people who after hitting several errant drives sarcastically say "I guess if I hit it in the fairway every time golf would be boring!" However, I think there is something very true to that.

In golf, hitting bad shots makes us appreciate our good shots, and the ability to overcome adversity (like making an amazing par from the woods) makes the game exciting and memorable. Life is similar in that we appreciate the good times in relation to "bad times", and are thankful for our good health, for example, after overcoming illness or pain.

Learning from our mistakes and constantly trying to improve our minds, bodies and skills is inherently human, however, is there such a thing as mastery? Even at Tiger Woods' level of play he is striving to improve. So if there is no true mastery on Earth, should we expect that in heaven?

Sports and competition are such an earthly endeavor that brings out the best and sometimes worst in people. We measure success in sports by how well we played, how hard we played, and if we won or lost. I might be wrong but don't see "heaven" as a place where competition and winning matter. But none the less, those are reasons a lot of people play- for the thrill of the game!

After all this discussion and speculation about what golf in heaven would be like, what can we take away to help us play better golf here and now? I say, enjoy this game for the ups and downs, the near misses and unthinkable makes. Carry hope that the next shot will be magical but find inner peace with the reality that every shot cannot be, because we are not YET in heaven. While you're still playing golf on Earth you might as well try and win a few harmless bets because I'm not sure the "big man" allows gambling up there!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!

[ comments ]
Torleif Sorenson says:
Lovely column, Erika. Many people have trouble stepping back from the details and admiring the "macro" view.
GolfSmith7 says:
Sorry to hear about the loss of your grandmother. I lost mine in 08 and I still miss her. I will lift up a prayer for you and your family during my prayer time. As far as golf in heaven I think God has better things in store for us,

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man [are] The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor 2:9

My our Lord and Savior comfort you during this time.
Torleif Sorenson says:
Agreed, GolfSmith7, and my sympathy also, Erika. At the same time, GolfSmith7, perhaps the beauty of where this game is played is the portent for what God has waiting in the lovely beyond:

"What a beautiful place a golf course is. From the meanest country pasture to the Pebble Beaches and Saint Andrews's of the world, a golf course is to me a holy ground. I feel God in the trees, and the grass and the flowers, and in the rabbits and the birds and the squirrels; in the sky and the water. I feel that I am home."
— Harvey Penick (1905-1995), legendary PGA teaching professional
legitimatebeef says:
The game is perfect as is, slices hooks shanks and everything. It's only interactions with other people that can make it less than wonderful. You can experience moments of perfection on the course in this earthly life, I believe, if you look hard enough, or are willing to brave some cold weather. There have been times when I've felt like the only person on the course, weather and conditions were good enough to play a fair round of golf, and I've honestly thought to myself "It does not get much better than this".
joe jones says:
I have to believe that when one passes through the Heavenly Gates he or she is met by someone who guides them to their favorite golf course. The weather is beautiful, no wind, no rain just perfect for golf. On the first tee he is paired with his or her favorite companions whether it be a deceased family member, a best friend or his or her all time favorite deceased professionals.One would like to strike every ball perfectly but that is not necessary . Just to be able to do this through eternity would be worth the normal ups and downs that usually occur when one plays. After all, no one ever masters the game. We should be just happy to be able to play this wonderful game.
mustang6560 says:
What would a "Heaveny Round of Golf" look like? All pars? All birdies? All ones?
joe jones says:
Even Ben Hogan dreamed about shooting 18, all holes in one. He said it frustrated him when he woke up and realized it was not attainable.
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