When you are in your 70s you may think you have entered the world of gentleness. You move in dignified steps that get you from here to there. You open and close doors tenderly, wary of catching clothing or hitting someone on the way in or out. You do not run down slopes or vault fences, and you certainly try to find crosswalks every time you cross.
You have outgrown your need for quick, violent moves. You swing a golf club methodically and under control, and the ball travels a ways out in front of you. The ball will always travel that short dignified distance as long as you are the gentle golfer. If you are beginning to play the game, you notice that it takes fewer shots if you can hit the first ones further.
Somewhere in your golfing days, you will envy the distance of many other players. They seem to unleash a swinging violence on the ball, and sending across the sky and bouncing way down the fairway. You fear that that cannot ever be you, because your age makes all you do ever so gentle and dignified.
Deep inside, however, you still have violence. You know what if feels like for your muscles to load up with power and swing a hammer hard enough to crack cement. Or split a log for kindling. Or drive a rodent from the basement. If you have ever broken something on purpose, you know you still have the ability to muster violent power.
Distance is not just method and style. To get more distance means, of course, swinging the club in a consistent enough manner for the ball to fly reasonably straight out in front of you. You may spend a few months swinging the clubs to make them go straight. All the while you probably think that eventually they will also fly further – but they will not.
Many people are happy just being outdoors, and moving through the manicured course on a fine afternoon, with friends who are amiable and muff up about as much as you do. Other people want distance…Only feeling that distance will make their heart beat fonder, and the minor tragedy is they will only find that distance in violence. Life is infinitely fair in that formula: Distance equals energy.
Distance equals violence. Your age is no excuse. The best golf clubs will not buy distance, nor the finest instructors inculcate it, if you have no violence left in your soul. A big part of golf is letting go that violence build up inside you. Don’t try to kid anyone, you still have violence in you.
Distance doesn’t occur merely – or even mostly — from the beautifully rounded swing. That lovely circle so easy for limber young bodies may be just a pleasant image in the sun. The real work happens two feet before and two feet beyond impact. It occurs in less than a quarter second of snap and whoosh when the club heads into the bottom part of its arc. The real work connects with an unmistakable “crack!”. They say swing fast, not hard. But to swing fast you MUST swing hard.
Hard does not mean wild and uncontrolled….but it does mean hard. You will never hit the ball with any distance at any age unless you swing viciously through that bottom arc — where the ball sits — with total violence. You are over 70 years, it is true, and perhaps a you are a sweet old person in most eyes. But learning golf means unleashing your true violence in the bottom part of your swing.
There is still time for you find your inside force. There is still time to transfer your personal violence into the ball that travels further and further away, so far that you even have a sweet moment to relax and marvel at its flight.
At our age, the world little condones any violence in us. But know this: if we play golf, we must learn that violence again — while there is still time.