Heavenly Golf
By Erika Larkin on 12/11/13
I am taking a detour this week from my normal instructional column to discuss a much deeper and arguably more important topic: "Is there golf in heaven?"

My beloved grandmother passed on this week and if anyone made it through the pearly gates, she did. Even though she was not a golfer, I got to thinking ... will she play golf up there? What would her game be like? Are we all relegated to the level of play we had on Earth or can we enjoy a magically perfect game on perfect courses at all times? God wouldn't allow shanks and duck hooks, would He? Or would He?

It's funny, every golfer and student I know dreams of shooting par and hitting the ball straight and far consistently. If you could actually do that all the time, and have tap-in pars would that even be fun? I've played golf with people who after hitting several errant drives sarcastically say "I guess if I hit it in the fairway every time golf would be boring!" However, I think there is something very true to that.

In golf, hitting bad shots makes us appreciate our good shots, and the ability to overcome adversity (like making an amazing par from the woods) makes the game exciting and memorable. Life is similar in that we appreciate the good times in relation to "bad times", and are thankful for our good health, for example, after overcoming illness or pain.

Learning from our mistakes and constantly trying to improve our minds, bodies and skills is inherently human, however, is there such a thing as mastery? Even at Tiger Woods' level of play he is striving to improve. So if there is no true mastery on Earth, should we expect that in heaven?

Sports and competition are such an earthly endeavor that brings out the best and sometimes worst in people. We measure success in sports by how well we played, how hard we played, and if we won or lost. I might be wrong but don't see "heaven" as a place where competition and winning matter. But none the less, those are reasons a lot of people play- for the thrill of the game!

After all this discussion and speculation about what golf in heaven would be like, what can we take away to help us play better golf here and now? I say, enjoy this game for the ups and downs, the near misses and unthinkable makes. Carry hope that the next shot will be magical but find inner peace with the reality that every shot cannot be, because we are not YET in heaven. While you're still playing golf on Earth you might as well try and win a few harmless bets because I'm not sure the "big man" allows gambling up there!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's SkyGolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at Enjoy!

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