Cover image for Golf and the spirit : lessons for the journey
Golf and the spirit : lessons for the journey
Peck, M. Scott (Morgan Scott), 1936-2005.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harmony Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xviii, 326 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV979.P75 P43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV979.P75 P43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV979.P75 P43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Golf. It's the ultimate head game. And when nothing but the best advice will do, along comes M. Scott Peck, M.D., the celebrated psychiatrist and author of the best-selling self-help book of all time,The Road Less Traveled. InGolf and the Spirit, M. Scott Peck writes a book for beginners and masters alike--and even for nongolfers. It goes beyond mechanics to explore the deeper issues, ways of successfully managing the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of this most wonderful, maddening, deflating, and inspiring game. Playing side by side with M. Scott Peck on an imaginary course of his own design--complete with illustrations of each hole--you will come to see the profound truths in this seemingly simple game. Appreciate that life is not linear. Come to understand your own anger and how to heal that which gets in your way. Accept the gifts of humility. Appreciate kenosis, the process by which the self empties itself of self. Benefit from teachers. Know that in weakness often there is strength. Realize that to experience the blessings of golf and life fully, you must accept the divinity that underlies all things. Like the best-selling volumes of Harvey Penick and Michael Murphy, Golf and the Spirit makes a unique contribution to the literature of golf and life. It goes beyond the body to address the heart and soul of the game, creating a rare opportunity for transformation in the lives of its readers, both on and off the fairway. It seems to me the human condition is most basically that we are willful creatures living in a world that, much of the time, doesn't behave the way we want it to. We live in the tension between our will and reality. Sometimes with great effort and expertise, we can change reality or bend it to our will. At other times--also with great effort and expertise--it is we who must change by coming to accept the limitations of the world and of ourselves. How we do this--how we deal with the hazards of life--is quite akin to how we deal with the hazards of a golf course. Sooner or later golfers who stick with the game long enough will almost always come to see it as a metaphor for life. But the word metaphor fails to do justice to all that golf has to teach us. I would go even further and say that, in its own way, golf is life and, not only that, life condensed. If we choose to use it as such, I believe that golf, next to marriage and parenthood, can routinely be the greatest of life's learning opportunities.

Author Notes

M. Scott Peck was born on May 22, 1936 in New York City. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and was attending Middlebury College before being expelled for refusing to attend mandatory R.O.T.C. sessions. He transferred to Harvard University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1958, and then received a medical degree in 1963 from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

He was a psychiatrist in the United States Army for nearly 10 years, was the director of the New Milford Hospital Mental Health Clinic, and worked in a private psychiatric practice in Connecticut. In 1984, he helped establish the Foundation for Community Encouragement, whose mission is to promote and teach the principles of Community.

He was among the founding fathers of the self-help genre of books. His works include The Road Less Traveled, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, The Road Less Traveled and Beyond, People of the Lie, and The Different Drum. He also wrote a novel entitled A Bed by the Window. He received the 1984 Kaleidoscope Award for Peacemaking, the 1994 Temple International Peace Prize, and the Learning, Faith and Freedom Medal from Georgetown University in 1996. He died from complications of pancreatic and liver duct cancer on September 25, 2005 at the age of 69.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The author of the phenomenally popular The Road Less Traveled brings his down-to-earth blend of psychology and spirituality to the well-trod paths of the fairway. Golf serves Peck as a metaphor for life, and he uses the game to urge readers to strive to do well but not to be concerned about their score, to be attentive of life's hazards but not to be scared of them. As Peck describes how golf is so meaningful to his life, however, he loses sight of the essence of the gameÄthe joy of play and success within the boundaries of the rules and the course. To anyone who has golfed more than once, reading this book will be like being stuck playing a round with a septuagenarian short hitter. Peck's book is for Peck fans, not golf fansÄor fans of good golf books. What Peck doesn't capture is the elation of hitting the perfect shot, the exhilaration of seeing perfection (even when, as is usually the case, it's somebody else's perfection). For such joys and a sense of how golf fits into the fabric of life, readers will do better to turn to Harvey Penick or Steven Pressfield's inspirational golf novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Major ad/promo. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Scott uses the game of golf to illustrate how we often struggle against ourselves: the golf course mimics the journey of life. Each chapter begins with a brief aphorism and then goes beyond the mechanics of golf to explore ways of successfully managing emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the game, and of life itself. Though not a how-to, the book still offers readers the basics of how to grip a club and get out of a sand trap. The 19 chapters correspond to holes (the front nine, the back nine, and the 19th holea drink at the clubhouse), and each ends with notes, most of which include witty asides. Pecks humor and honest discussion continue to delight and enlighten. Readers who were challenged by The Road Less Traveled (LJ 9/15/78) and Denial of the Soul (LJ 3/15/97) will enjoy the lessons offered here. Essential for libraries seeking to stay current with popular psychology, spirituality, and self-improvement. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/99.]Leroy Hommerding, Citrus Cty. Lib., Inverness, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



THE FRONT NINE Once there was a man of limited imagination who considered the progress of life to be straightforward. HOLE 1 SETTING THE SCENE To the proverbial man from Mars, golf would seem the most linear of all human activities. For example, it is the only common game I know where the player with the lowest score wins. The whole point, apparently, is to get the ball from here (a tee) to there (a hole in a green) as directly as possible. Generally, it is obvious that the straighter the passage of that little ball from the tee to the hole, the fewer times the player will have to hit it and, hence, the greater her or his sense of accomplishment. Then the golfer will move on to the tee of the next allotted space of terrain (or "hole") and repeat the same linear process all over again. And again. And again. A few practicing human golfers actually do envision the game in this manner. Usually they are male. They are the "chargers." They advance directly along the course, their eyes only on the hole ahead, plowing forward with maximum speed, as if driven by a mule. They are generally not having much fun. They are also often not playing very well, either. This is because the reality--unlike the appearance--is that golf is probably the most nonlinear pastime on the face of the earth. This book is devoted to that reality. Consequently, it will be the most nonlinear book I've ever written. For those of you who have trouble tolerating anything that isn't clearly straightforward, I suggest you stop now. Throw in the towel. Quit. And don't look for much from golf. This is not a "how to" book. You will read herein almost nothing about how to grip a golf club properly, and very little about how to swing one. Or hit from a downhill lie. Or get out of a sand trap with dignity. Moreover, my lawyers have firmly advised me not to give you any guarantee whatsoever that anything I have to say will improve your game by a single stroke. This is a "how not to" book. Human beings have amazingly different personalities. Why this is so--to what degree it is a fact of nature (genes) or nurture (how their parents raised them)--even as an experienced psychiatrist, I don't have the foggiest idea. In any case, certain people--like the pros--seem almost to have been born to play golf well. Others have personalities that make them bound to play the game poorly. Learning how to play golf with the slightest decency or pleasure has been for me a continual battle against my own personality. This is what has made me an expert. I am an expert on how not to play golf. Why, you may naturally wonder, would anyone spend an enormous amount of time and money "playing" at something he will never be very good at, something that may often be humiliating? Ah, there you have it. The answer is in the question: I play golf precisely because it is humiliating. While I don't enjoy being humiliated, I do need it. There's another word for what golfers go through that's even stronger than humiliation: mortification. It is derived from mors, the Latin word for "death," as is the term mortician for "undertaker." To be mortified is to feel so humiliated that you would rather bury yourself deep in the nearest sand trap than ever show your face on a golf course again. In the good (or not so good) old days, certain Roman Catholic monks and nuns and a few others used to practice mortification as a discipline. They defined it as the discipline of "daily dying." Some of their techniques, such as wearing hair shirts, self-flagellation, and floor licking, were indeed masochistic. Yet I believe they were onto something--something we have generally forgotten but still very much need. They practiced mortification deliberately in order to learn humility. Another word in theology gets more to the heart of the matter: kenosis. Kenosis is defined as "the process of the self emptying itself of self." In doing battle on the golf course against my own personality--against my ego, if you will--I am attempting to practice kenosis: getting myself out of my own way. It is what spiritual growth is all about. In this book there will eventually be much more about kenosis, this struggle of self against self. For the moment let it suffice to say that, among other reasons, I play golf because it is for me a highly useful spiritual discipline. Indeed, given the fact that it is so humiliating, I doubt I could play it at all unless I envisioned it as a spiritual discipline. And I am suggesting that you too might want to regard the game in this light. So what you have here from me is yet one more "spiritual growth" book. And while there are no guarantees, reading it might just enable you to take a dozen strokes or more off your score. Or at least persist in your attempt to do so. And for some of you, even to take up the game as a beginner. What's so wrong with my personality that I need to empty myself of parts of it? My anger, just for starters. I am a very determined person. That's not all to the bad, but I tend to get very angry when things don't go just my way. Things like golf balls. Excerpted from Golf and the Spirit: Lessons for the Journey by M. Scott Peck All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xv
The Front Nine
Hole 1 Setting the Scenep. 3
Hole 2 Taking Up the Gamep. 17
Hole 3 Penalties and Perfectionp. 33
Hole 4 Flight, Freedom, and Powerp. 49
Hole 5 Human Naturep. 65
Hole 6 The Invisiblep. 85
Hole 7 Deftnessp. 101
Hole 8 Paradoxp. 117
Hole 9 Climate and Perspectivep. 133
The Back Nine
Hole 10 Teaching and Learningp. 149
Hole 11 Timep. 165
Hole 12 Civilityp. 183
Hole 13 Competitionp. 201
Hole 14 The Human Conditionp. 219
Hole 15 Golf and Sexualityp. 239
Hole 16 Rememberingp. 259
Hole 17 In the Flowp. 275
Hole 18 Godp. 291
Hole 19 Closurep. 303
Indexp. 315