Golf, According to Mark Twain
It comes down to nature lovers and sports enthusiasts. Mark Twain once said, “Golf is a good walk ruined.” Another good quote, whose author is unknown, is the slogan of the
United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Let me make a case
for how these two quotes are connected.
The point of golf is to hit long shots, as few as possible on the fairways, and have as
few putts as possible on the putting green. The fewer strokes, the better your score.
It’s a challenging game, and one sport I do enjoy watching on TV, as well as tennis.
When someone is playing golf their mind is totally consumed with making the fairway
shot go where they want it to go, making the putt perfect, keeping those strokes down.
Their mind is not being wasted, whether they walk or use a golf cart.
For those golfers that walk, golf is sociable as golfers talk about the current game.
Same for those in the cart. Sociability is a good thing. A solitary walk doesn’t
provide socialization. A group walk would.
Now, as Mark Twain mentioned ruining a walk by playing golf, what did he mean by
it? Obviously there were no golf carts at the time he made this memorable quote.
Did he mean people would be thinking about golf, not contemplating nature on their
walk, or meditating, or trying to resolve a philosophical question while meandering
through a meadow? Or perhaps he meant just walking to enjoy a beautiful day, and get intot the rythym of walking. People thinking of these things on their walks were obviously not ruining their minds, they were improving them. So we can conclude Mark Twain thought golf, by virtue of thinking about the next long shot or putt, was a stretch of
time where a mind was being terribly wasted.
I’ve never taken up golf because it’s so time consuming and you have to play several
times a week to be good. And even at a miniature golf course I tend to get bored
focusing on the game way before the 18th hole. I would rather be putting my mind to
better use, like coordinating it with my body to play a good game of tennis.
When we watch golf on TV we don’t get minutes long views of a golfer walking from
one tee to the next. That would be too boring for the viewers. So we get lots of
swing shots at the fairway, and lots of putting green action, all of which require a
great deal of mental concentration. Wasted mental concentration according to Mark
I love his quip. I’m not sure I totally agree him. But I do agree that a mind is a terrible
thing to waste, whether it be because a person can’t get into college because of being
economically disadvantaged, as many blacks are, or because it’s not solving a philosophical question or how to make par.
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