Stephen A. Vigiano is merely referring to the inconsistency of golf instruction when he quotes Forrest Gump’s famous words about life being “like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.”
Perhaps the same could have been said of anyone venturing out with this PGA professional expecting only to hit the ball further and eliminate the dreaded hook. Any recipient of one his 15,000 golf lessons over 28 years would soon learn otherwise.
“Life lessons are found in golf lessons,” says Vigiano in his book, Enrich Your Life and the World With the Game of Golf (Outskirts Press). “Golf is a sport that transcends a club and a ball. It is a sport that teaches compassion for others — a key ingredient that will turn the world around … If golf is a vehicle for bringing compassion to the world, then I believe it should be part of the American fabric.”
Vigiano is either a golfer who philosophizes or a philosopher who happens to play golf. He is what his son Evan calls “a compassionate stranger” who has an acute interest in people and human relationships, and a desire to strive for a better world.
GOLF MIRRORS SOCIETY’S FLAWS
Golf is a metaphor for life, according to the author, who sees the game as mirroring some of the flaws in our society. For example, Vigiano believes commerce and greed have changed the sport.
“Build a premier golf course or country club to showcase multimillion-dollar homes, condominiums and estates. This was never what the game was intended for. The greed of business executives who never even played the game was consuming everything that was right and good about the game.” Vigiano says he became a golf professional “not to watch a golf course being used as a vehicle to line the pockets of greedy construction companies.”
What’s more, Vigiano resents that golf has become a “secret society” of the elite where only a privileged few have access to the game and its surface luxuries.
Enrich Your Life and the World With the Game of Golf is not a “golf book” and certainly not a golf instruction book. Vigiano wants it to represent a blueprint for a fulfilling life.
“The game of golf defines your character and integrity. It determines if you have what it takes to be a winner. Life is the same — it does not necessarily describe you winning a tournament as much as the journey you took to get to that tournament.”
TAKING LIFE ONE STROKE AT A TIME
Vigiano uses the book to share his philosophy and show his passion for people and the world. The first step, says Vigiano, is to write down your goals and dreams on paper, to create a path to pursue perfection, whether ever attained or not. Think of life as a bogey (one shot worse than par on a given golf hole), a par, or a birdie (one shot better than par), and gradually work to improve your game — and your life — one stroke at a time.
The golf swing, Vigiano observes, has three basic components: laws, principles and preferences. The same can be said about life: “We have the laws of humanity, and we are guided to live by a set of principles handed down by generations. Then we have a preference of how we want to live our lives,” with many choices along the way.
For golfers, the book likely will reinforce many of the joys, benefits and lessons experienced each time they head out on the course. And the book might inspire non-golfers to consider Vigiano’s messages and give the game a try, or superimpose its wisdom onto the game or pastime of their choice.
“A focus on the human aspect of teaching a high level of integrity and values will lead to a better world, not just the act of playing the sport.”
The author does not lose sight of the bigger picture: “Compassion [whether learned on the golf course or anywhere else for that matter] will turn the world around. Compassion will end world wars, hunger, disease and the destruction of our planet … When life and golf revert to basic fundamentals, the world will be a better place for everyone.”