Playing golf and keeping score have become one and the same thing. Score is one of the ways you can enjoy golf but not the only way.
As a matter of fact, traditional scoring is the very least interesting way for me to play golf.
Think of it this way; what if you were a good recreational skier and you got to the resort and it had just snowed two feet of dry, light powder. The lifts were just starting to run and you were going to get the first tracks. There isn’t a cloud in the sky. The air is crisp and blue and someone taps you on the shoulder and tells you the only skiing you can do today is run gates on a race course for time and that time you record will determine how well you did and if you had fun.
This may seem like a ridiculous example, but this is how people think of golf. Score has become a substitute for the joy of the swing. I have made swings that have been so inspiring that I walked the next three holes without hitting a shot because I didn’t want to dilute the moment.
In contrast, I heard a golfer once say, as he had returned from a vaction in Hawaii, “If I knew I was going to score that bad, I would haven’t taken the trip.”
Score is a byproduct of learning how to strike the ball, but it is not the product. There are so many creative ways to play golf once you break free of traditional scoring. The reason most golfers won’t do this is because score is all they have to hold on to. When you don’t know how to store and release energy in your golf swing and get the high of a truly well struck ball, all you are left with is score.
I smile in amazement when golfers don’t hit a solid shot on a hole but manage to chip in or sink a long put. They are so happy because they got a par, as if the par was what the game was about and not the swing. Score can be a prison if you are not careful because when the byproduct becomes the product, nothing truly meaningful can be created.
The game can be anything you want as long as you find it rejuvenating. Don’t get locked into it being only one way, these skiers haven’t.