I am proud to announce that I just recently took up the game of golf. And no I have not played a round with a priest and a minister just yet. Instead I purchased a set of used clubs from our local golf exchange store where the salespeople were friendly and extremely helpful. This was in stark contrast to the giant box golf stores I went to where I found the salespeople to be condescending and quite rude. I won't say which store it was, but it rhymes with "dolfwith."
Since I purchased the clubs I have played a grand total of two rounds over the past six months. But in those two rounds, I discovered something quite intriguing. I have found that my time on the links gave me a greater appreciation for Jewish prayer.
Aside from the beautiful nature of the courses in the Tucson desert, and my constant prayers that my drives would not veer so far to the right that they actually hit houses, I began to see the correlation between prayer and golf.
First of all, I know no one can just show up at a course twice a year and expect to shoot par or better or even necessarily under 100. This is quite similar to Jewish prayer. One term for prayer is avodah, which literally means 'work.' In order to have a successful worship experience like a good round of golf, one really needs to take the time to practice.
Also golf, like prayer is a private experience done in a communal setting. Think about it, it is just you and the ball (insert Chevy Chase saying 'na,na',na'), while gathered with three other people, all hoping to accomplish the same task.
And golf, like prayer, also involves a lot of shmoozing. No wonder why so many Jews play the game.
Of course this metaphor only works so well. Unlike golf, one does not need any additional equipment, though there are times in the Temple building where I think a beverage cart would come in handy.
I'll let you know the next time I head out to hit the links. Hopefully it will be sometime before next Rosh Hashana.