Conversations with Par // Work in progress, to be completed by June 1 2021.
By Peter Melton
The conversation begins..
It’s a gorgeous Saturday, my Golf bag is in the back of my car, my to do list is under control, got my snazzy new gold color golf shirt on, the sun is shining and 3 buddies of mine are meeting me at the golf course in an hour. Life just doesn’t get much better then this.
I played pretty well my last time out. Today feels like a really good day, a day I could score really well. I’m gonna beat these guys today, perhaps today I will achieve my ultimate golfing goal, perhaps today I will break par or at least shoot even par.
(5 hours and 18 holes later…)
What happened! …this was supposed to be such a great day, I was going to break par, and now I don’t even want to count how many strokes over par I am. I blew it, again.. I always choke when the pressure is on.. aughhh.. I can’t believe how bad I hit the ball today.. and my putting, if you could call it that.. I let those guys beat me..again..
I’ve been playing this damn game for over 30 years and I still can’t figure it out.. one minute I love it, the next minute I hate it… I don’t understand why I get so stressed out about it.
Now, the sun has gone down on this day and on my golf game… I just want to get in my car and drive home and see if I can forget about it, this gorgeous day has turned into a wreck. I though I could shoot Par, ha, what a joke.
As I walk to my car, I see the 18th fairway, this is supposed to be a sacred place, walking up 18 with a smile on my face, fans watching in anticipation… all I need to do is make a par and I win. Par.. huh… It seems like I am always chasing this “illusive carrot” called par.
What the hell is par anyway..?
At that moment, although I didn’t know it at the time, that one question would create a whole new world for me. Those six words and a question mark started an experience that would change my life… forever.
I didn’t know where the voice came from, but I heard it loud and clear, and I still hear it today…
What the hell is par anyway..?
– Take a walk with me and I’ll tell you.
What, what was that.. Who said that?
– I did
Who are you?
– Follow me back towards the 18th tee and I will explain.
I’m hearing things, who are you?
-Par… just Par
Like the par in golf?
-Yes, like the Par of golf, is there another Par out there?
No, Not that I know of.
-Woosh! Thank God, you had me worried.
Worried about what?
-Worried that someone might be trying to steal my name, or that someone might be trying to move in on my turf.
Move in on your turf?
-Yes, my turf, the grass, you know the green stuff on the golf course.
Turf, I get it, very funny… I mean very crazy! What’s going on here?
– Just come for a walk, I will explain it all.
Ok now I’ve lost it, I’m going for a walk with a voice in my head, the voice of some…thing that claims to be “Par” and is making jokes about “someone moving in on his turf.”
-It’s no joke, where did you think that saying came from?
I don’t know where it came from, I don’t care, and I’ve never even thought of that before
-Well… now you know.
What’s going on here? Who are you? What are you?
-I told you, I’m Par.
What are you doing in my head? Why do I hear you? Why are you talking to me?
-You asked the question, I answered.
– You said, “What the hell is par anyway?” You asked so I thought I should answer you.
I have never thought of par as a … never knew par was… alive or that something named Par would talk to me.
-Well now you know. Look you have already learned two new things.
I haven’t learned anything, I don’t know anything, and… I was just talking to myself after a round of golf and next thing I know I’m hearing voices..
-It’s sounded like you were confused so I thought I would say hello.
I am confused… I have been playing golf for what seems like forever and I still don’t get it…and now I’m hearing voices and on top of that, I’m talking back to them. (and I’m taking a walk too) Ugh… I think I might be going crazy?
-You might be “going” crazy, or maybe you are already crazy and you are trying to lead yourself somewhere else?
Hey wait a minute, are you saying that I’m crazy? I’m not crazy.
-Well…Aren’t you the one who just said that you have been chasing an illusion… and that you have been playing a simple game for more than 30 years and you still don’t get it? That sounds kinda crazy to me.
Augh….and now I’m walking and talking to a voice in my head… augh..
– I’m sorry if I am bothering you, I could leave if you like?
No, that’s ok, you can stay for now… I don’t want to be alone out here.
Maybe I am crazy
I don’t want to be out here alone.. Ha ah, did you hear that, I said, it’s ok for you to stay, because I don’t want to be alone..
-I did hear that… very interesting
So… If I think you are real, does that make me more sane or more crazy?
-I’m not sure.
Like there was someplace for you to go if you left?
-I could stop talking to you if you want?
That won’t be necessary,
– Thanks, as we become better friends, I think this will all sort itself out.
Better friends? You make it sound like this is going to keep happening? Isn’t this just a one time temporary dose of insanity?
– That’s for you to decide. I’m always here.
OK then… I will keep you posted on that.
In the meantime.. Help me out here, who are you?
-It might be easier if you think of it as “What am I?”
Ok, what are you?
-Hmmmm…how do I explain this… actually, can we go back to “Who am I?”
OK whatever… just tell me… who are you.. what are you.. my god, I’m talking to myself and I cant even make up my own imaginary mind…maybe I am already crazy.
-As I said before, my name is Par, “the Par from golf” as you put it.
And why are you here… how are you here?
– I think that will become clear as we continue our conversation. The first step is to help you understand who I am, and how we play this game together.
What are you talking about, we don’t “play this game” together. If you are par, then you are the “illusive carrot,” as far as I can tell, you are the goal and eventual enemy of all golfers! If you are “who” and “what” you say you are, then you are the one who causes all the stress in golf!
-Well, that is partly correct. You do tend make an enemy of me, but that is because you don’t understand me. (And I’m not sure you understand the game of golf?)
Well then, set me straight would you… give me the scoop, tell me the truth, lay it on the line, bring it on, come on Par.. bring it on, I don’t have all night, I got places to go and people to see.
– Let’s take a look at this shall we… tell me, when you think of par, what is the first thing that comes to mind? What does par mean to you?
Par is the score I am supposed to get on a hole, but I don’t get them often enough.
– The score you are “supposed to get” on a hole. What happens when you don’t get that score?
In general, I fuss a bit, I feel like I lost some imaginary battle, I beat myself up a bit and wish I was a better player.
– So par is a measuring device to judge how well you do?
Yes, that sums it up pretty well.
– When you think of par, what else comes to mind?
The next thing I think of is how many strokes over par I am. Or where I stand against my opponents and if there is still a chance to have a good round.
– Once again, a measuring device, a way to compare yourself against the course and against other players?
Yes, over time, by keeping track of how many shots over par I am, I am assigned a number, that is called my handicap. It represents how many strokes over par I am on an average round of golf. This way, I can tell other golfers how well I generally play.
– You mean how well you normally “score.”
How well I play and how well I score are the same thing.
– Ah.. I get it, we’ll talk about that later, but for now, do you have anything good to say about par, is par ever a good thing?
Oh ya, I love par when I score one, when I make it in the hole in the right amount of strokes.
– Ok, so when you score a par, then you are happy, then you get a bite of the “illusive carrot?”
Most of the time.
– Most of the time? What do you mean most of the time? You got your par, you got the carrot, you measured up and you are still not happy?
Sometimes I think I should have made it in one shot under par, a birdie. Other times, when I make a par, I immediately start focusing on how and if I can make par on the next hole too, because I need a lot of pars to have a good round. Oh, and one other thing, if I am playing poorly, a par can feel like a “oh now you show up” kind of feeling, like that “where were you when I wanted you earlier” feeling.
– Did you hear what you just said?
Yea.. wow. When I actually put words to my thoughts, they sound… well, they kinda sound… oh my god, maybe I am crazy.
Ok, I think I have said enough for now, your turn to talk, your turn to answer some questions.
– OK, shoot… ha ha.. oh that’s a good one.
What’s so funny?
– I told you to shoot, when you do, you will be shooting …Par.. get it?
Where do you come up with this stuff?
– I’ve been thinking about golf forever, so I have a lot of material.
Alright, would you please answer my questions?
– Yes, yes I will. What you got, go ahead shoot.. Ha ha.. you can shot par again, will that make you happy?
Enough already, who are you, what are you, why are you…?
– You think of me a target number of shots for a hole, a measuring stick of sorts. While that is one aspect of who I am, there are many, many more. To think of me as only a score you are supposed to shoot, is like me thinking that, all you are, is what you did last Wednesday night.
What is that supposed to mean?
– I know that you are so much more then what you did last Wednesday night. But based on what you have said, your ideas about me are about as far off as me thinking that all you are is what you did last Wednesday night. There is so much more to you and there is so much more to Par, then being a measuring stick or a score you are supposed to shot.
Ok then, if there is so much more, tell me more about you, tell me about par.
– In order to explain this in a way that you will understand, let me start by taking one step back first. I know you wanted me to talk more, but I have just a couple more questions first, you up for it?
Go ahead shoot.. ha ah.. now par is shooting me! All these years trying to shoot par and now, Par shoots me. Ah the irony of it all.
– (where do you come up with this stuff? ) Anyway… please answer this question, what is the purpose of the game of golf?
The purpose? The purpose of the game of golf? I don’t know… where do you get these questions?
– You’ve been playing a game for 30 years and you haven’t considered the overall purpose of the game?
Of course I have, just never had it asked that way. The purpose is to make to ball into the hole in as few shots as possible.
– That is how you play, I’m asking about why you play.
Why do I play golf?
– Yes, why? Have you ever wondered why you play golf? Deeper yet, have you ever wondered why there is a game of golf at all?
Someone must have invented it, as a fun game to play, is that what you mean?
– Kind of, but one level deeper… if the game had a deeper purpose, what might it be?
To challenge us? To give us a challenge and see how well we handle it.
– Getting closer, go on.
To challenge me to do better, to persist, to practice more, to get better?
-You’re on the right track, what else… why would it want to challenge you?
For the thrill of the challenge, to help me have fun, to help me grow.
– Good, how does it help you have fun and grow?
It gives me a chance to hang out with old friends and make new ones. It is a game I can play with my 76 year old dad, on a first date with a new lady friend and even with my 12 year old nephew.
– Go on.
It gets me out in nature, I get to see beautiful landscapes and weather and animals and smells and sounds and all the unique things that a round of golf offers. And I get some exercise at the same time.
– Woooo you’re on a roll… anything else?
Well, it led me to you… and although I am still confused about all this “I’m having a conversation with an imaginary character named Par” it is starting to make some sense to me and I am enjoying myself, in a different kind of way, out here on the golf course.
– I’m enjoying this too, thanks.
Your welcome, thank you…this is fun, and I think I’m learning something now.
– Cool, it’s amazing what can happen when you shift your focus a bit.
Yes, you’re right about that. I went from pissed off and confused to feeling pretty good
– Congratulations, good job.
Thanks. Now what..?
-Well lets take this slowly. In fact, let’s end this first conversation now.
– You’ve had enough for one chat, its getting late, look, we are back at the 18th green. Meet me on the driving range tomorrow morning at sun up.
Sun up, why so early?
– Because your mind is less cluttered at that time, and wear a small bell…. don’t ask, just do it.
As quickly as it had begun, our conversation was over. I got into my car and I drove straight home, didn’t even say a word, not even to myself. I was in a daze of sorts and I couldn’t wait for sun up and our next meeting. (I brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas, set my alarm, climbed into bed and fell right to sleep.)
Chapter Fore !
In the middle of a very restful sleep, I suddenly woke up. I was wide awake. I rolled over and looked at the clock, it was 4:44 in the morning. From somewhere deep inside of me, a chuckle emerged.
I wondered, where did that laugh come from? I’m not even awake yet there is something in me that is alert enough to see some humor in this “middle of the night” awakening. I rubbed my eyes and as I looked at the numbers again, I heard the 4’s screaming out, FOUR, FOUR and then, I got… FORE!
I chuckled again, and then I understood. The clock was yelling at me, like a player who had hit a bad shot on a golf course. Fore! Fore! Fore!
What was the clock trying to warn me about? Whatever it was, I knew it had to be a sign of things to come. I knew I wasn’t going to get back to sleep and the next thing on my mind was the bell I was supposed to wear. Par had asked me to meet him at sun up and to wear a small bell. Why in the world would he ask me to wear a bell? Who wears bells anyway? Only cows wear bells, so the farmer can keep track of them I suppose. Was he afraid that I would run away? Did he need to keep track of me somehow? It didn’t make any sense, but then again, ever since I first heard that voice, nothing has made much sense.
Where was I going to find a bell to wear? It was then I remembered that I once had a string of small bells, I think the last time I saw them they were in the junk drawer. I got up, turned on some lights and started digging through the junk drawer. Sure enough, there they were, 8 small bells on a light brown string. They had little markings on them, I think they were Tibetan bells a friend had given me. The string was just long enough to fit around my neck, so I tied the ends of the string together and presto, I had a necklace of bells.
I made myself some breakfast, got dressed and headed off for my sunrise appointment with Par.
Chapter Five – Enjoyment
I parked my car, put on my shoes and just as the sun peaked through the trees, I walked out with my bag to the driving range. As I got nearer the range, I called out.
Par? Par, are you here?
-You called me Par… isn’t that sweet.
That is your name isn’t it?
– Yes it is… I see you got here on time… how did you like getting up so early?
Hey, I wanted to talk to you about that.
– Ok, but let’s get a bucket of balls first.
Are we going to do some practicing this morning?
– I’m not sure, let’s see what happens.
Ok should we get a small bucket or a large one?
– Get the big one, let’s have some fun.
One large bucket, coming up..
Ok, here we are, which club do you want me to use?
– No club yet.
Oh ya, gotta stretch first right? I usually use a club to help me with my stretching.
– There will be time for that kind of stretching in a minute, let’s exercise your mind first. I thought you wanted to talk about getting up this morning.
Oh yes I do, the oddest thing happened to me this morning. I went straight home after our chat yesterday and then I went straight to bed. I was sleeping soundly when suddenly, boom, I was wide awake. I turned to look at the clock and it was 4:44am.
– I love it when numbers line up like that, then what happened?
As I saw the numbers, a chuckle came out of me. I don’t know how to explain it, but the chuckle seemed to be coming from deep within me or perhaps beyond me, or at least beyond my conscious mind. Then, as I rubbed my eyes and looked at the 4:44 again, the numbers seemed to be yelling out to me.
– Has anything like this ever happened before?
No, never, not anything like this. As I looked at the numbers, I heard “four” like the number 4. Then I heard the number “four” again, and then when I said and heard the third four, I got it, it was “FORE” f.o.r.e like the warning call in golf.
– Wow, sounds like a powerful experience.. And it is extra funny that you should mention this now.
– Because that is exactly what I wanted to talk to you about today.
You wanted to talk to me about Fore?
-Yes, It is a very important part of the game.
An important part of the game, what are you talking about?
-Well, there is more to golf then you think, and there is more to the term fore then you think.
This is crazy, it’s like I’m in some, Alice of Wonderland for golf, where nothing is as it appears. First you start talking to me in my mind, then you tell me that you are Par, the par from golf. Then you ask me what par means to me, then you ask me what the purpose of golf is, then you ask me to wear bells and meet you at sun up and now you are telling me that FORE!, the “look out” signal, is and important part of the game of golf. You are really rewriting the book on golf here.
– Maybe… or perhaps I’m just crazy
Well if you’re crazy, then what am I?
– I’m not sure how to answer that.
Well whatever, just tell me, what is the meaning of fore? Wait, I know your answer already, your going to ask me what it means to me right.
– You’re one sharp cookie
I pick things up pretty well.
– I can tell, well then, what’s your answer?
OK, what does fore mean to me? It means that I have hit a shot toward someone, and that they are in danger, so I yell at them to alert them to a dangerous situation.
Exactly, do you mean that I got it right, on the first try?
– Yes you did, why are you so surprised, you said yourself you usually pick things up quickly. Fore is a warning that “someone” is in danger.
Well then I don’t get it, if fore is a seldom used warning, then why are you saying it is such an important part of the game?
– “Someone” is in danger… doesn’t that qualify as important?
Well, yes… but I get the feeling you have something up your sleeve.
– Of course I do. You do catch on quickly. FORE is a warning, but it is not just a physical “watch out you might get hit by a ball” warning. It can also be used as a psychological warning.
I knew you were up to something. They say golf is mostly in your head, but what do you mean?
– Golf is physical and mental and so is the danger warning, “fore.” On the surface, there is the physical “watch out” warning you yell to someone else.
That is the only definition I have ever heard.
– Well then, keep your mind open, here’s something new you can learn. The “watch out” warning is only one aspect of fore, and… as you might guess…there’s more to it. Fore can also be used as a mental or emotional warning. But unlike the physical warning that goes out to someone else, the mental and emotional warnings are warnings you give to yourself.
Warnings I give to myself, well there’s a twist. What do I have to warn myself about?
– The “fore” mental warning is used to alert yourself to the dangers of your mind. First and foremost of these, is the danger that you have forgotten, or never really asked yourself, the reason why you are playing the game.
That is why you asked me about this yesterday.
– Correct again. Consider this whole experience to be a mental “fore.”
Ok, where do we go from here?
– First things first, you figure out what the game is about and decide why you are playing it. It is very important to have your mental foundation in place if you expect to have physical success.
Everyone says how important the mental game is, but very few people talk about it.
– Well, I guess it’s about time then, it is time to understand the whole story.
Is that what we are up to? Are you teaching me the whole story of golf?
-Yep, right again. Let’s continue. Yesterday I asked you why you play golf and you led yourself to your own answer. Can you remember what your answer was?
That seems like such a long time ago, can you give me a clue?
-It has to do with your answer to, “what is the purpose of golf,” what do you remember about your answer?
The purpose of golf is to challenge me, to give me a chance to grow.
– What else did you say?
I said that it gave me a chance to enjoy playing a challenging game with friends of all ages.
– That’s it, you remembered that golf is a game and this game is meant to be enjoyed. When you got that, you got the key foundational block to build on, you got the first of your four E’s, ENJOYMENT.
What are the four E’s, I have never heard of them.
– The four E’s are the essential building blocks of golf, it is important to get the “I am playing golf for my enjoyment” block in place before moving on. People who have mastered this first “E”, can find a never ending variety of ways to enjoy themselves on a golf course. Golfers who do not have this foundational block in place, will often find themselves off balance, usually relying on their scores to bring them enjoyment.
This is interesting, go on. What are the other E’s?
– One step at a time… You are in the process of remembering them for yourself. You learn much better when you figure things out for yourself, instead of someone just telling you. My role is to help you find your own answers. Look, you have led yourself to the first E and now we will focus on that.
I do learn better when I figure things out for myself, so what’s next?
– To confirm that you really got it, tell me again what your first E is.
My first E stands for enjoyment, I play golf to enjoy myself.
– Very good, keep that in mind while we use these range balls.