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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ben Hogan's Golf Swing


  After having heard one time too many the reference to the runner in "Chariots of Fire" proclaim that he can feel God's pleasure in his running, I, without really planning to, began to look around for a sports quote that I could launch and use for myself as an inspiration to keep running my own race, which is writing.

     Strangely, though I am not a golfer, I found my inspiration in Ben Hogan's comments about practicing his golf swing.

  • The only thing a golfer needs is more sunlight. 
  • Placing the ball in the right position for the next shot is eighty percent of winning golf.
  • I learn something new about the game almost every time I step on the course.  
  • Don't ever just swing the club. Always know what you are trying to accomplish with each swing. 
      That last idea drawn from an old book I read years ago about Hogan caused me to rethink drafting and brainstorming in writing.  Built in to the writing process is an idea that you have to brainstorm and create drafts, but over time, you learn enough about writing to not need the brainstorming/drafting process as much. 

      In short, those early steps of any new writing project become over time, a warm-up, and after a while, your muscles stay warmed up all the time.  To continue drafting and brainstorming was no longer a helpful step in the process; it was a procrastinating, self indulgent habit that impeded my productivity, but because those two steps are so deeply ingrained and stamped with approval by others I didn't see the problem for a long time.  

     Remembering how Ben Hogan thought about swinging his club with intention checked me on it--disciplined me.  His discipline made me more disciplined, and I think that's what a sports metaphor can do.  

     Since then I tell this story to as many preachers as I can--not because I don't like that "Chariots of Fire" movie or like to be reminded that a runner once upon a time felt God's pleasure in his movements; it is just that I can feel God's pleasure in Ben Hogan's swing as well, and there are a lot more people sitting in church who play golf than run.  And there are some of us who don't do either but can imagine both.

Daphne Simpkins doesn't write about golf except when a character needs to understand a swing. She writes about church life in the South. Her first Mildred Budge Novel in a series about church ladies: Mildred Budge in Cloverdale

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