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Art in Golf

Christopher M Pilie'
09 Nov 2019 Editorial

A friend recently told me they were surprised that I was an artist while I was playing golf. Judgements, no matter how benign, are always welcome because they often provoke much thought and reflection. After all artists are often wanting to be judged whether they admit it or not. In many cases, even a negative judgement illustrates to me that I am doing the right thing. I mean if you are an artist, didn't you pursue producing expressions of your inner self to provoke thoughts? I have learned more about myself from judgments of my actions and interpretations of my art above all other forms of learning.

I thought about the judgement for quite a few days. It then came too me. I had gone through a very hard time in my life when my marriage fell apart. Creativity, most specifically painting, was a way for me to sort out my life. If you view the work at that time, I was filled with rage. Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins encapsulated my feelings at the time with the lyrics, "despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage".

Always loved the band even though that song was not my favorite. "Daphne Ascends" was a song that was more my speed.

It was probably the invoking of Daphne and Apollo from the Ovid Metamorphosis prose, in my mind anyway, that set the mood for that song.

"You love him

You love him more than this

You love him and you cannot, you can't resist

You love him

You love him for yourself

You love him and no one, no one else"

The complexities of love are encapsulated in those words. But it was the rage that fueled my passion in the early days of painting.

Apollo, the Greek/Roman god of poetry, music, art, the sun, and a great warrior mocked the god of love Eros (Cupid) who held a bow and arrow. Eros did not take the mocking likely and shot Apollo with an golden arrow of love. He also shot Daphne, the river nymph who vowed to remain a virgin, with a lead arrow. It was a twisted trick that Eros played on the two which really does signify the myth of Cupid. Apollo became infatuated with Daphne and pursued her despite her willingness to be with him. While running from him, she begged her father Peneus, the river god, to save her. She begged him to open the earth and enclose her to protect her from danger. Her father complied and transformed her into a tree.

"a heavy numbness seizes her limbs; her soft breasts were surrounded by a thin bark, her hair changed into the foliage, her forearms changed into branches; her foot, just now swift, now clinged because of sluggish roots." Ovid

This story had a profound impact on my life at a young age and it renews itself to me every time I have read it over the years. I see it as almost the arcitype for love. There is something mysterious about the unattainable feeling that love brings. It is the sensual paradox of pain and pleasure. Love is just that - pain and pleasure. Think of the most intimate moments with your lover and truly explore whether if there is overwhelming pain and pleasure blended together. This story embodies all that is the paradox that is love. Apollo can't have his lustful desires fulfilled and Daphne is thrusted back into her virgin descent by the power of her father. Apollo is the archetypal man pursuing the archetypal fleeing woman.

So where does the golf come in? Well if you have ever played golf, you know rage - HA - a little humor why not. Sure, golf is fun while smacking a little white ball around someone’s grand groomed yard but it is the visceral challenge that hooked me. There has been nothing in my life more challenging than painting, golf, and love. I guess you can throw parenting in there too. Interesting pairings? Try playing golf in a scramble tournament and see how things are paired up. I know it seems humorous to throw golf into the mix. Stick with me.

The moment you walk onto the golf course, if you have ever taken golf seriously, you know that you feel like, "today is going to be my best day of golf". This of course if you have been playing for fifty years and still hold on to the bad swing as an almost sentimental irony. Then you go out there saying, "hope I can do better than last time". Come on, if you play golf you have said both of these things. My experience has been it takes a couple holes to understand my body condition and how to best apply all that I have learned about my game to have a good day on the course.

Painting is somewhat like this. I have this grand vision for what a painting will be and approach the canvas with much excitement. It is almost a compulsion or what someone looking from the outside in at the passion as an infatuation. Once the paint starts being applied, it become a struggle. The passion spills onto the canvas in a exhilarating and exhausting way. It is raw and unrefined. The struggle is to refine what has been applied into my image. Sometimes it means painting over a part of the painting that looks just right in order get the whole painting the work. It is like abandoning the bad swing.

Call me sentimental but I see golf so much more than that. When I walk onto the course, I see the rough aspects of nature beautifully refined into a grand garden to play in. It embodies the challenges and pit falls in life. The success of the game depends on your ability to recover from failure. It also depends on the extremely difficult mastery of one of the most challenging movements in sports - the golf swing. That swing propels a ball sometimes up to 600 yards with several iterations while targeting a hole 4.25 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep. On a hole like this, if you do not get there in 5 strokes you are not even considered average. The USGA takes self-reported scorings of golfers and publish that less than 2 percent of those that report are average or better than average golfers. that does not even account for the people that do not report how they play. Golf will make you humble as will love, parenting, and painting.

There is no sport like it. In formula one Lewis Hamilton has won almost all races this year. The Patriots have lost only one game so far this year. Neither of these can be done without a massive team. If the team is "hitting on all cylinders", then the team succeeds. Swap out the driver or the quarterback and most likely success will occur. In golf it is the golfer, the weather, his course management strategy, and his or her swing. It is the golfer against nature. Sure, there is a caddy and there is coaches. But ultimately it is the golfer alone. Remove the golfer and there is no success for that golfer. Tiger Woods is arguably the best golfer ever and is struggling to play golf at the top of the leader board. He failed to make the cut on several tournaments while winning the much sought after Masters title this year. Rory McIlroy, ranked as the top player in the world, has participated in 170 golf events, only qualified for 147 of them, and has only won 18 and 18 is a lot.

Golf is one of the most challenging recreational sport to participate in without a doubt. I believe it is because it is the most individualistic. I have and will paint hundreds of paintings. The chance that one becomes an iconic piece recognized by generations of people living beyond my death is little to none - even if I master my craft. Love and its institution marriage is difficult. So if you are married, you have a fifty percent chance of being successful. Those odds are much greater than the success rate of Rory McIlroy and he is the best in the world.

Crimson Rada

The Crimson Rada Experience

There is a part to all of us that we wish to cover and hide. It is our shadow. This collection of work is a peak behind the facade for a view of the shadow. Why hide the shadow. Embrace it.


Embrace the Shadow

There is a part to all of us that we wish to cover and hide. It is our shadow. This collection of work is a peak behind the facade for a view of the shadow.

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