The Artful Golfer

Playing the Game of Golf as Art

Approaching the age of 50, I took up the game of golf. Improvement came quickly, first breaking 80, then breaking par one year after increasing my play to twice per week. I lowered my handicap to 8 in my first year, 4 in my second year, then 2 after two more years. I eventually reached a low index of 1.4 with a low round of 68. And I recently celebrated my 4th Ace!

I accomplished this without taking lessons or focusing on technology or technique. Instead, I approached the game creatively, learning to improve my inner game and discover my natural swing. I pursued the game of golf as art, inspired by many of the artful golfers listed below.


Six months after picking up the game, I met a local yoga instructor who is a friend of Fred Shoemaker. He recommended that I read Fred's book, Extraordinary Golf. I did. The very next day I shot a round of 76! His book transformed how I approached the game and who I am on the course. He taught me how to become aware of my swing, to be free of fear and swing freely, and to remain open to the possibility that this shot and this round could be extraordinary. I often drift back to my old self, but a quick re-read always gets me back on track. I later had the privilege of playing golf with Fred at Bandon Dunes. He's as extraordinary a person as he is a golfer.


While reading Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy, a novel in which the game is revealed by Shivas Irons as a doorway to the mysteries of life and a path to self-discovery, I discovered the Shivas Irons Society. I learned that an upcoming event was scheduled nearby and signed up. I found myself paired with the society's founder, Steve Cohen. Steve started the society in 1992 in response to the tremendous popularity of the novel. I've since attended additional SIS events to meet others drawn to golf for its opportunities for community, discovery and transformation and who share a love of the game and a respect for golf's deeper dimensions.

Erik Anders

I Called It!November 23, 2013

As I stood on the 176-yard par 3 13th tee at San Luis Rey Downs, I turned to Matthew, the 13-year-old son of a friend in my foursome. Without thinking, I asked, "have you ever seen a hole-in-one?" He answered no. So, I replied, "watch this." I then teed up my Callaway, hit a nice little 6-iron and watched it draw right towards the flag. I could tell it had landed close to the hole, but a front-side bunker hid the ball from sight. We figured I'd have an easy tap-in birdie, but I just I had this feeling! As we approached the green, we didn't see my ball. Maybe it went over the back of the green? With great anticipation, Matthew ran up and looked in the hole. I'll never forget the look on his face when he saw my ball sitting at the bottom!

Golf as Art

When you disappear, Golf as Art shows up. The resulting void is where all the important discoveries, personal development, satisfaction, joy and fulfillment take place.
–Fred Shoemaker

Swing motion at its highest level is the uninterrupted flow of natural rhythm from within.
–Tom Woods

Your enemy is expectation. Your ally is detachment. The game isn't the process, the game is the dream.
–Kris Barkway

A great golf shot is a thing of beauty. Repeating it is an art.
–Mark Guadagnoli

Golf is performance art and there's no right and wrong in art. You're free to play however you want.
–Grayden Provis

Where is the one for whom golf is an exploration into himself? Where is the one who understands that the craft is not a science, but pure art? Where is the one who realizes that there is no particular way? Where is the authentic golfer?
–Kapil Gupta, M.D.

Artful Milestones

  • Mar 05 - Started playing (1 rd/week)
  • Jun 05 - Broke 80 (21st round)
  • Nov 05 - Increased play (2 rds/week)
  • Jan 06 - Sub 10 Index (54th round)
  • Jan 06 - 10 GIR (62nd round)
  • Mar 06 - Under 30 Putts (75th round)
  • Aug 06 - First Eagle (124th round)
  • Aug 06 - 5 Birdies (138th round)
  • Sep 06 - Broke 76 (146th round)
  • Oct 06 - First ACE (161st round)
  • Oct 06 - Sub 5 Index (166th round)
  • Oct 06 - 13 Fairways (169th round)
  • Dec 06 - Broke 72 (184th round)
  • Dec 06 - 70's Streak (9/10 rounds)
  • Feb 07 - Sub 4 Index (219th round)
  • Feb 07 - 15 GIR (219th round)
  • Oct 07 - 24 Putts (298th round)
  • Jan 08 - 70's Streak (12 rounds)
  • Jan 08 - Second ACE (332nd round)
  • Apr 08 - Par from Tips (370th round)
  • May 08 - Sub 3 Index (382nd round)
  • Aug 08 - 50th Course (420th round)
  • Nov 08 - Broke 70 (460th round)
  • Dec 08 - 16 GIR (472nd round)
  • May 09 - 60th Course (510th round)
  • May 09 - 7 Birdies (511th round)
  • May 09 - Broke 70 (511th round)
  • May 09 - Sub Par Streak (2 rounds)
  • May 09 - 70's Streak (13 rounds)
  • May 09 - Broke 70 (520th round)
  • May 09 - Sub 2 Index (520th round)
  • Jun 09 - 70th Course (538th round)
  • Aug 09 - Third ACE (556th round)
  • Aug 09 - Broke 70 (559th round)
  • Jul 10 - 5 Birdies in 9 Holes (669th round)
  • Jul 10 - 100 Holes at Even-Par (670th round)
  • Aug 10 - 70's Streak (20+ rounds)
  • Nov 13 - Fourth ACE (Called it!)