Man inevitably seeks perfection in life. Whether it’s a Savile Row suit; a ‘45 Mouton; the secret to making the world’s best martini; or a Patek Philippe. Even if we try to ignore them, perfect ideals persist for each of us, sometimes out of view perhaps, but impossible to ignore down the stretch — like the desire to be the world’s best parent. We might seek out perfection to insulate us from hardship, as if by achieving it we might shelter ourself from future worry, or feel that perfection in one area of our life might make up for the wrongs in others. Perfection when achieved becomes a token of man’s mastery over his environment. To hold it a return to Eden in a time free from sin, to recall a distant lost youth. Appropriately, a golf course might be the closest thing to Eden built by human hands — even its hazards are picturesque. A Disneyland for grown-ups. Did the grass lawns of Eden compare with the close-clipped greens at Augusta however — I have my doubts. The golf course is both a playground and a shelter from the world. From the tax-man. From the boss. From the quiet fear of x deep in each of us.
In sports, man finds solace and a sense of meaning. We watch winners and losers made in an instant. The sweeping narrative of a lifetime, full of ups and downs, distilled for entertainment into a format we can more easily digest whilst our life goes on at slower pace on a Sunday afternoon. Inversely, if the eighty years of a life were a round of golf, perhaps you’d might still be looking down the ninth fairway right now toward the pin. The tough, sloping green coming up, the turn ahead, unsure whether you might make par. No one knows whether they’re going to birdie the next hole or end up in the bunker and that’s the worry. In playing sports, we can sample what we seek in life. With one perfect swing, the ball fading in the air towards the green. As it lands next to the pin, rolls with the grain and drops, we become a master, God-like for a moment – perhaps even longer.
We’re often told true perfection comes from practice, not in taking a mulligan, but in overcoming our errors. If we’re really to attain it, we have to put our last stroke behind us, stand tall, focus, and swing again with full conviction. Maybe we’ll find it, maybe we won’t, but along the way maybe we’ll be blessed enough to see the sunset over Eden. Maybe we’ll learn to laugh with our buddies as we hit it into the water for the fourth time on the Thirteenth. Maybe we’ll find joy in just thinking about what might have been if we’d made that long putt against the pro. If you’re really fortunate maybe you’ll see your kid swing a club and feel a sense that they’ll be okay, even when your own round is over. If we can just learn to sample perfection, but know that perfection isn’t the goal, that failure is par for the course and that the game goes on regardless of what we hit. If we can just enjoy the perfect and imperfect, and live with them both the same, then maybe we’ll have played the perfect round.