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, breaking 80 within 6 months, then breaking par one year later. I lowered my handicap to 8 my first year, 4 in my second year, then 2 after two more years. I eventually reached a low index of 0.8 with multiple low rounds of 68. And I recently celebrated my 7th 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 embrace my natural swing. I pursued the game of golf as art, inspired by dozens of other artful golfers.


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.

4th ACE, I Called It!November 23, 2013

As I stood on the teebox on the 176-yard par 3 13th at San Luis Rey Downs, I turned to Matthew, the 13-year-old son of a golfer in our weekly foursome. Without any prior thought, I asked him, "have you ever seen a hole-in-one?" When he answered no, I replied, "okay, watch this." I then teed up my ball and hit an easy 6-iron. The ball began to draw right towards the flag. I knew the ball had landed close to the hole, but a front-side bunker hid the hole from sight. I'd likely have a tap-in birdie, but I just I had this feeling! As we approached the green, we didn't see my ball. Matthew ran ahead and looked in the hole. I'll never forget the look on his face when he found the ball sitting right there 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?
–Kapil Gupta, M.D.

Artful Milestones

  • Mar 2005 - Started playing golf
  • Jun 2005 - Broke 80 (21st round)
  • Jan 2006 - Single-Digit Index (54th round)
  • Aug 2006 - First Eagle (124th round)
  • Aug 2006 - 5 Birdies (138th round)
  • Sep 2006 - Broke 76 (146th round)
  • Oct 2006 - First ACE (161st round)
  • Oct 2006 - Sub 5 Index (166th round)
  • Dec 2006 - Broke 72 (184th round)
  • Feb 2007 - Sub 4 Index (219th round)
  • Oct 2007 - 24 Putts (298th round)
  • Jan 2008 - Second ACE (332nd round)
  • Apr 2008 - Par from Tips (370th round)
  • May 2008 - Sub 3 Index (382nd round)
  • Nov 2008 - Broke 70 (460th round)
  • May 2009 - 7 Birdies (511th round)
  • May 2009 - Sub 2 Index (520th round)
  • Aug 2009 - Third ACE
  • Jul 2010 - 5 Birdies in 9 Holes
  • Jul 2010 - Played 100 Holes Even-Par
  • Aug 2010 - 70's Streak (20+ rounds)
  • Nov 2013 - Fourth ACE
  • Feb 2017 - Fifth ACE
  • May 2018 - Sixth ACE
  • May 2018 - Seventh ACE
  • Jul 2018 - Sub 1 Index