Authenticity

by Tom Swift

‘Have you ever seen identical twins take up golf? Their swings from the very first are radically different. Isn’t that odd?’

Keeler absorbed this from Vance, nodding thoughtfully. Yes, he had seen twins swing. Yes, how interesting that their motions were so different …

‘Or,’ bagger Vance continued, ‘have you ever watched a boy pick up a club for the first time and swing? I mean his first swing ever. And then seen him years later as an accomplished player? Isn’t his mature swing virtually identical to the one he took the first time he picked up a club?’

‘That is so,’ Keeler agreed enthusiastically. ‘Please continue.’

‘Or consider a professional instructor trying to alter a student’s swing to fit some preconception of the proper motion. It’s virtually impossible, is it not?’

Keeler agreed. ‘I see you’re driving at a point, sir.’

Vance paused. Keeler stood, absolutely attentive. ‘I believe that each of us possesses, inside ourselves,’ Bagger Vance began, ‘one true Authentic Swing that is ours alone. It is folly to try to teach us another, or mold us to some ideal version of the perfect swing. Each player possesses only that one swing that he was born with, that swing which existed within him before he ever picked up a club. Like the statue of David, our Authentic Swing already exists, concealed within the stone, so to speak.’

Keeler broke in with excitement. ‘Then our task as golfers, according to this line of thought …’

‘… is simply to chip away all that is inauthentic, allowing our Authentic Swing to emerge in its purity.’

-Steven Pressfield, The Legend of Bagger Vance (1995)