The official definition of the term ‘cathedral’ is, according to the Cambridge Dictionary – “a very large, usually stone, building for Christian worship. It is the largest and most important church of a diocese.” Of course human beings love to use figurative language to describe their world employing metaphors to paint a picture for listeners and readers. This is why I have borrowed the word for my expression the ‘green cathedral’ in reference to the golf course. Many, but not all, golf courses contain tall trees reaching up toward the sky above and it is this characteristic which reminds me of cathedral spires and rooves. Golfing inside the green cathedral is a magical experience.
Golf & the Cathedral Metaphor
The golf course shares other features with cathedrals in its sheltered retreat from the hurly burly of the marketplace. You can find sanctuary on the golf course away from the cares of the world. There is a sense of sacredness for those with the sensitivity to notice. The beauty of nature replete with bird and animal life. The breath of the wind rustling through the trees and foliage. The fact that the golfer is required to concentrate to play better golf assists in the quiet ambience of the environment. Some even say that there are golfing gods at work on the course.
Zen & the Sacred Maze
The green cathedral or, perhaps, maze might be a better description, contains 18 tracts of land bordered by hazards concluding in greens with flagged holes. There are, therefore, 18 short journeys of various lengths to complete via your golf ball. A golfer is reduced to the cares of his clubs and ball. The complexities of modern life are stripped away. The simple task of striking ball toward a target in the distance compels him or her. Zen and the art of golfing. The spiritual seems to pop up when we remove much of the malarkey from life.
The golfer goes about his business in quiet rectitude because there are many rules to obey in the game of golf. The etiquette required has been long established by generations of preceding golfers. There is a lineage within the game of golf reaching back to Old Tom Morris, who was the keeper of the greens at St Andrews. Talk about saints and green cathedrals! The Scottish game is where things got started, although the Dutch claim they were hitting things about with sticks too way back when. St Andrews has a cathedral ruin and a university both made of venerable old stone. There are no trees on their golf links, but it is the home of golf and designed by god according to the locals. If you haven’t tried golf my advice is to give it a go and discover for yourself the green cathedral in your neck of the words.