The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life

“The way a man sets his hands on a club will inform you infallibly as to how deeply he’s thought about the game, how profoundly he’s entered into its mysteries. The grip, a remarkable fellow named Bagger Vance once told me, when I was about the same age you were then, is man’s connection to the world outside himself. The hands, he said, are where the subjective meets objective. Where we “in here” meet the world “out there.” True intelligence, Vance declared, does not reside in the brain, but in the hands.”
“I believe that each of us possess, inside ourselves,” Bagger Vance began, “one true Authentic Swing that is ours alone. It is folly to try to teach us another, or mold us to some ideal version of the perfect swing. Each player possess only that one swing that he was born with, that swing which existed within him before he ever picked up a club. Like the statue of David, our Authentic Swing already exists, concealed within the stone, so to speak.”
“I prefer the word Self,” Bagger Vance said. “The Authentic Self. I believe this is the reason for endless fascination of golf. The game is a metaphor for the soul’s search for its true ground and identity.”
“First the pure state of unconsciousness, or preconsciousness. Pre-self-consciousness. This is the state in which our youthful companion resides now. He doesn’t think about what he’s doing, he simply picks up the club and swings. This demonstrates deep wisdom, because it expresses faith in the existence of the Swing, it launches itself fearlessly into the Void. Unfortunately this pure state, like youth itself, cannot last. It must by Nature’s law pass on to the next stage.” “Self-awareness” -Keeler strode step-for-step beside Bagger Vance up the rise-”Self consciousness.” “Exactly,” Vance acknowledged. “In this stage, we realize that we posses an Authentic Swing, but we can’t repeat it. Some days we can’t find it at all. Our frustration mounts. We begin to study, to seek instruction, to strive by dint of effort to mold and control our motion. This as every golfer knows leads only to despair. We cannot overcome golf by force of will.”
“The first path, I heard him say, was that of Discipline. It had something to do with beating balls, with endless practice, an utter relentless commitment to achieving physical mastery of the game. Second was the path of Wisdom. Third (and this I heard most of) was a path of Love.”
“That of surrender. Surrender of the Little Mind to the Big Mind, surrender of the personal ego to the greater wisdom of the Self.”
“Rhythm and confidence are twin names for the same quicksilver element. They are two sides of the same coin; rhythm the physical manifestation, confidence the mental. You may start with either; it will irresistibly produce the other.”
“The greatness of this is that it mirrors Higher Reality. There can be no cheating in the dimension in which the Self resides. There every action inexorably produces its result, every thought its…”
“Act, Junah, but act without attachment, as the earth does. As I do. The rain falls, with no thought of watering the land. The clouds roll, not seeking to bring shade. They simply do. And we must too.”
“He was a warrior. Purged of ego, disciplined, focused, without fear or hope, living with every fiber of his essence in the present and only the present.”
“I felt what he always made me feel: a sense almost of shame, of awe and mystery and humility. The sense that life was operating by laws of such depths and profundity, and on so many levels that we mortals were ignorant of, that I or Junah or anyone was the meanest form of arrogant fool to yield to the conclusions of despair we invariably allowed ourselves. ‘Stand up! Stand up and act!’ Vance’s voice always insisted.”