As our esteemed columnist walks off into the sunset, he shares one last, vital lesson.
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By Peter Kostis
Friday, December 23, 2016

I’m not one to bury the lead, so I'll tell you up front: This is my final column for GOLF. I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share my views on a variety of subjects about a game I dearly love. Being granted a monthly audience with millions of passionate golfers has been an absolute honor. But after 10 years and more than a hundred columns, it's all too easy to run out of fresh topics and subjects to discuss. And I refuse to recycle ideas or to repeat things that I've said before. You, dear reader, deserve much better than that.

Golf is the perfect antidote to the rush-rush of modern life. My advice? Decide to make time to go play.

For a number of years, I've subscribed to the principles laid out in a book entitled The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book offers a powerful code by which to live one's life, broken down into a quartet of tenets: Make your word impeccable. Don't make assumptions. Don't take anything personally. Always do your best.

To those, I would add a fifth agreement, which is especially relevant now: Remember to recharge your batteries! In our world of not-so-social "social media," there's a seemingly insatiable demand for instant gratification. It's a constant energy drain, so more than ever, it's crucial to take a break and recharge.

That's where golf comes in. This game is the perfect antidote to the rush-rush, now-now pace of modern life. And so this is where I'll leave you with my final words of advice: Don't complain about not having enough time to play, or that golf is too slow and takes too long. Make time to play. Decide to go tee it up. Turn off your smartphone and connect with nature, your swing, yourself. Disengage from the world, and engage in your well-being.

Yes, the game can be frustrating. Golf is difficult. That's also why it's so rewarding. A deep satisfaction comes from hard-earned accomplishments. You forget those last few mis-hits when a pure, well-struck shot soars into the blue sky and stops near the cup. It feels glorious. And you can't hit that shot by accident. It takes hard work.

Golf can't be mastered. Accept it and embrace the challenge. Although you can never assume the next shot will be a good one, you can work to make it one. Be truthful with yourself and follow the Rules. And if you have a bad day, don't take it personally.

For now, I'm off to the course to recharge my batteries. Why don't you join me?

ASK PETER

Peter, what should I look for when I analyze my swing on video?

—Bryan Cromwell, N. Brookfield, Mass.

Everyday players aren't great at identifying whether their swing positions are good or bad. So when you're watching your movement, think in generalities: the overall motion, the rhythm and the flow. Avoid fretting about specifics, such as how quickly your arms go back, or "finding the slot." That said, do check your starting position, especially your posture. Use alignment rods to help with your aim. (And if you're watching your swing from down the line, notice if you're well balanced, rather than, say, falling back on your heels.) A good setup and grip help a lot. But when you swing back, you want to feel everything move together, with the club and your body turn stopping at the top at about the same time. After impact, a balanced follow-through is ideal. Again, you're looking for generalities. Focus on a swing that feels simple, effortless, "together." And see if you can keep a nice rhythm and start and finish in balance. Do all of this, and you'll give this movie two thumbs up.

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