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the most mystical of sports?

IT could be something to do with all that light, or the nearness of the sea (as at the Open), or the presence of so much nature, or just the simple act of walking.

Perhaps it's the pockets of hush at each shot, the deep concentration as the players still themselves, find their centre, go within so that they might find that which lies "without". Whatever the reasons, golf seems to lend itself to reflection, to contemplation, to philosophy. Mark Twain may have famously described the game as "a good walk spoiled", but other writers disagree, seeing in those hours on the greens so many lessons for life.

The ball's flight cuts a smooth parabola against the blue – or the Fifty Shades of Grey – and there are those who watch such parabolas and see instead a parable. They say that all our journeys can seem like that of a golf ball; how we hope to have our time in the sun, to rise and soar, before we return to earth and become motionless.

Mind you, that is to ignore your own shots, which are not so much parabolas as dodecahedrons, that being the shape they make after they have bounced off all those trees and that passing caddy's trolley and that unfortunate crow who now lies on the Ninth, flapping one weak wing in a feeble imitation of that green's flag.

Golf can be seen as a metaphor – or meta-FORE! when you're playing. Steven Pressfield took the famous battle of the Bhagavad Gita and put it on a golf course in The Legend of Bagger Vance, and more recently Andrew Greig perfectly married life and the links in his lyrical Preferred Lies, which Pressfield described as "a masterful meditation on life and healing".

In 2000 Greig had a colloid cyst removed from the base of his brain. While in recovery, his father and a climbing friend came to see him – nothing remarkable about that, except that they had both passed away some years previously. Mal Duff died on Everest in 1997. Greig said: "I saw them and I heard them, and although as a scientific person, I'd have to say what happened wasn't possible, I know that it did."

There's something of that story in the early morning mists that hug the greens at the Masters – and in the cover of Greig's book, which shows someone driving the ball into the horizon-less white.

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