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Texture...

Paul MacCormack

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It never ceases to amaze me how many layers and textures slowly appear over the course of a given season. Whether it’s the stages of the melt over winter, the new buds and shoots of the spring or the ever-changing bursts of wildflowers over the summer months giving way to the burnished coppers of autumn, living mindfully encourages us to lend our awareness to this bounty constantly.  But, as we are all aware, the demands of our jobs and our lives can make that difficult by times. It can be a tall order to sit still and notice your surroundings when you feel as though you are being pulled in a thousand different directions.

 In my own experience, I find it easier to access this awareness as the seasons shift. There are many mindful moments sprinkled throughout the year but my practice is a work in progress. Gentle reminders to pause and tune into presence are very helpful, but admittedly I still find myself racing by times and missing what’s right in front of me. 

The beginning of fall is a time which always yields much time for contemplation and reflection for me. As the end of the golf season approaches, this window offers a brief respite and a chance to breathe before the last sprint of activity and the winter sets in. It’s also the time of year that the splendor of autumn reveals itself through its colors, intricacies, and most of all its textures. 

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Even though all the seasons are full of their own mysteries and revelations, in my experience the fall is when I can access the richness of change in its immediacy and every day seems to be something new; but at the same time old and timeless. What appears to be so constant one day changes overnight and reveals something deeper the next. As nature winds down and readies itself for a winter’s rest, a depth that was hidden is revealed. 

The properties we manage are a concert of layers and textures. The best architects know the value of textures and go out of their way to build in diversity that must be revealed over time. Often the greatness of a design can only be discovered with multiple visits and different vantage points. A simple fold or rumple built into a fairway can offer different experiences depending on our angle of approach. This is also why the wisest courses and best architects fully admit that this greatness is rarely achieved during the first go around and work to maintain a relationship long after the ceremonial first tee balls. 

We, as stewards of both our courses and more importantly the land on which they sit, are acutely aware of the value of layers. Things like the complex relationships within healthy soils must be tended with care in order to reveal their true potentiality over the course of time. Short grass, tall grass, water courses, trees, bunkers and contours and can subtly change as the years pass and all serve to enhance the experience. From the intimacy of a secluded green site to the grandeur of a windswept tee deck, how we connect with our natural surroundings matters a great deal. If we are particularly aware we might even catch a glimpse of the changes in our own contour as time passes. Greying temples, smile lines forming, and hopefully a softening of some of our rough elements.

Short grass, tall grass, water courses, trees, bunkers and contours and can subtly change as the years pass and all serve to enhance the experience...

As I mentioned in the outset, a contemplation of texture also matters when it comes to our own inner experience. Do we pause and seek out time to see what is unfolding right before our eyes? Or are we speeding through our days looking at things one dimensionally? So often there is such a richness and depth contained within the reality we are experiencing, if we only had the time and wisdom to see it. 

It also matters in the relationships we have with others. Be it with our assistants, equipment technicians, crew, management/ownership, family and friends; there is always more going on than we often see initially. When we are able to see past what is annoying us about someone and actually appreciate the fullness of their experience, our understanding and responses can change in powerful ways. A space for a more compassionate interaction arises.

The best way to fully appreciate the abundance of this season is simply to pause in mindful awareness. Heading out to your favorite nature area or even walking your course can afford you the time to see what is actually unfolding around you. When we do so, our perspective shifts. 

So, stop and pick up that leaf. Examine its vibrant colors and internal structures. Consider its role in helping create the air you breathe. Know that it is all part of a continuous cycle of growth and senescence which in turn feeds everything you see. Listen to the wind and the sounds of nature all around you. Feel the ground beneath your feet and know that you are part of it all. And whether you’re alone or in the company of a good friend, know that there is a depth and texture present that is far greater than we often take the time to see. 

Thanks for reading.     

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