Be happy: Make up the rules

When you meet Dean Hermanson, he will tell you with a smile that he's 60 years old. His gray, almost white hair would suggest he could be older. But his young-man face pleads for a verdict of less than 60. But it doesn't matter -- Hermanson doesn...

When you meet Dean Hermanson, he will tell you with a smile that he's 60 years old. His gray, almost white hair would suggest he could be older. But his young-man face pleads for a verdict of less than 60. But it doesn't matter -- Hermanson doesn't count like the rest of us -- he makes up his own rules.

He grew up in a family resort with a par 3 golf course and loved the good life -- swimming, golfing and resort work. He went off to college, majored in English, minored in philosophy and decided there was no better place in the world than the place where he grew up, so he returned to the family business, continuing to lead the good life. He stayed there, self-employed, until the resort, golf course and family home were sold.

All these years he golfed. I have told you before about what I think of golf: a non-athletic game played by people who would rather ride around in carts than walk, would rather have somebody else carry their clubs and who love wearing colorful, spiffy clothes and cute little white kid gloves. The two hardest working people at a golf course are the caddy and the bartender. Pardon me if the needle stings -- I'm just having a little fun.

Hermanson loved golf, but the game made him frustrated, miserable and short tempered and led him down the path of "self loathing." He golfed 50 years and never got any better. Also, it hurt his back -- surgically repaired some years ago, but still painful unless carefully protected.

So, to protect his back and enjoy the game more, he made his own rules. When I spoke with him he was wearing his One Club, Second Chance Golf t-shirt. On the front was that title, plus a golf tee with a number six where the ball goes. On the back of the t-shirt was the following: "One Club/Second Chance Golf Rules: 1. Use forward tee box, 2. Improve your lie anywhere, 3. Optional second shot -- play your best, 4. Never move the pin." The golfer uses only one club, the six iron -- even for putting. Hermanson considers the six iron the best all-purpose club. It's the club used by Alan Shepard on the moon. Shepard left two golf balls up there. You can almost see them on a clear night when the moon is full.


How do the rules it work? The golfer tees off from the forward tee (the women's tee). He shoots a second ball if he's not satisfied with the first. The second shot is a metaphor for life -- we can learn from our mistakes. He moves the ball to a comfortable tuft of grass (not shooting from a divot) and never takes the pin out -- too much bending over -- hard on the back. The result is that Hermanson is the happiest, least miserable and most laid-back guy on the course -- minimal frustration and no self-loathing. His score is lower that it would normally be, he's casually walking around the course with one club that he uses as a walking stick when held by the metal part. Better yet, the six iron requires a downward stroke and not the upward stroke necessary for a driver -- much easier on the back.

Hermanson doesn't have to cheat -- under his rules there's no need. The one club requires him to be more creative which is perfect for him because he's a creative guy. A young golfer from San Jose, California asked Hermanson to explain the rules of his game. When he heard the rules he said, "You're awesome."

Hermanson remains a scholar of philosophy and philosophies. He cited the famous Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, who said, in effect, truth is a pathless land, don't follow spiritual leaders or intermediaries, find your own truths -- you have it in you -- it is within your reach. He referred to the philosophy of Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist whose philosophy was often summarized as "follow your bliss." He recommended reading from the writings of Michael Murphy, the golfer and "human potential" leader of the 1960s to learn about meditation, exercise and diet and the power of the inner mind. Murphy's theory is that we only use a small percentage of our physical, mental and even paranormal capabilities.

Hermanson thinks his rules enable him to have fun, enjoy himself and never get down on himself or the game of golf. He even has a Facebook page, "One Club, Second Chance Golf." You can learn from Hermanson. You can play with him -- he enjoys company while golfing -- but you can't play against him. He's playing a different game. But don't follow him -- follow your own inner voice.

Michael Murphy, the human potential philosopher asks the question, "Is the game of golf an x-ray into the soul?" If it is, the souls of most golfers could be nourished by more meditation and bliss and fewer golf carts, caddies and clubs.

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