“The Legend of Bagger Vance” by Steven Pressfield tees up a message of greater meaning and knocks a long drive down the fairway straight to the pin. The book, which is exquisitely written, discusses the fact that golf is a “higher plane” activity. It makes the point golf is a sport of the gods. It brings you closer to the divine. It is the only sport where the golfer has to judge himself. If he makes an error, the onus is on him to call the penalty. It is a sport where you become one with nature on courses carved out of the land. Pressfield writes of finding the “authentic swing,” which is the representation of your true self. In it he says all the knowledge a person needs can be found in the hands as they grip the club. He wrote that one must play golf, as one must play the game of life, with abandon. Hold nothing back and give it your all. This spoke to me. He makes the claim that there are multiple existences occurring simultaneously, and our true self, guiding by our hands and grip on our world, finds the existence we are meant to live and drives us forward, both literally and figuratively.
Essentially, Pressfield writes “Bagger Vance” to describe golf as a metaphor for life. In life, as in golf, integrity, respect, competitiveness, focus, and peace are key components. The story centers on a golfer who is struggling to find meaning in his life by the narrator telling the story of another golfer who was struggling to find meaning in his life. All three of the primary characters — the narrator, the current golfer and the past golfer — are all influenced by the mysterious caddie, Bagger Vance. Vance shows all the players “the field,” which is the dimension of the world where all the possible existences live. He shows them how to give themselves to the game, which is to give themselves to life.
In the story, Vance is described to be a god, or God Himself. He tells all the players that he will always be with them. When they are in their darkest hour of need, he will be by their side. He lives in all times. He has experienced everything. He is experience everything. The allusions to God are strong, and the message is clear — trust in God and everything will be OK.
As I’ve said before, I am a big fan of Pressfield, in so much as I’ve read him. He inspires me, and “The Legend of Bagger Vance” didn’t fail to sink the inspirational putt. It showed me to stop over thinking things. I need to live, not worry. I need to trust in God that everything will be OK, and I need to give everything to all that I do. I shouldn’t hold back.
I give this book 5 out of 5 Stars. Anyone who is interested in golf will be enthralled. The suspense is intense. Pressfield masterfully paints a picture of the 36 holes of golf that are played. He gives the right amount of detail without bogging down the story. The question of who Bagger Vance is, as well as how the golf match turns out, kept me turning page after page. (I aspire to write as well.) Likewise, even if you aren’t a golf fan, the message of the book will strike a nerve.
I recommend this book to everyone. You will be pleased you read it.