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Golf as Meaningful Play

A Philosophical Guide

Walter Thomas Schmid

Golf as Meaningful Play offers a philosophical introduction to golf as a sporting practice and source of personal meaning. It is intended both for scholars interested in the philosophy of sport, and for intellectually curious golfers who seek a better understanding of the game.

This book describes the physical, emotional, mental, and ethical aspects of the game and how they influence golf instruction. It looks at golf as play, game, sport, and spectacle, discusses golf’s heroes, communities, and traditions, and analyzes the role of the virtues in golf, linking them to self-fulfillment, the ultimate good of golf experience. The book concludes with discussions of classic works of golf literary and film art, including Caddyshack, Missing Links, Tin Cup, and Golf in the Kingdom, which celebrate its follies and glories.

The fact that golf can serve as a playful laboratory to test oneself is a deep part of the game’s attraction. Golf, if played well, conveys an experience which unites happiness, excellence, and interpersonal flourishing. This book strives to give an account of golf both as it is and as it ought to be—how golfers may improve their games and even themselves, in meaningful play.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 234Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-4985-5008-6 • Hardback • May 2017 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4985-5009-3 • eBook • May 2017 • $90.00 • (£60.00)
Walter Thomas Schmid is professor of philosophy at University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Photo Acknowledgements
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Idea of the Shot
Chapter 3: The Sport of Golf
Chapter 4: Communities and Traditions
Chapter 5: The Virtues of Golf
Chapter 6: The Play of Imagination
A Selection of Golf Quotes
About the Author
A two iron pured to a distant green describes my joy in reading this book. Golf has internal structures that, if understood and appreciated, help the golfer to seek and find ‘self-fulfilling golf.’ A discussion of the shot, the game, social and political issues, aesthetics and ethics, and presentations of golf in literature and film. I recommend this book to golfers, philosophers, and sport enthusiasts.
Warren P. Fraleigh, author of Right Actions in Sport: Ethics for Contestants

W. Thomas Schmid’s analysis of golf is one of the best applications of Aristotle’s ideas to the sport philosophical literature. His essentialist proposal takes internalism deeper and provides new, original ways to respond to the challenges posed by contextualist philosophical theories of sport. I invite everyone interested in the philosophy of sport, or golf, to read Schmid’s work.
Francisco Javier Lopez Frias, Pennsylvania State University

It is widely believed that golf has stimulated a more varied literature than any other game. Golf as Meaningful Play encompasses this impressive variety as thoroughly as any book I’ve read, opening windows into many of its mysteries. After reading it, if you’re a golfer, you will see the game in new ways. If you’re not, you may well be amazed.
Michael Murphy, author of Golf in the Kingdom