9 Life Lessons from the Golf Course – Part 2

Posted: July 21, 2011 in Growth, Hobbies
Tags: , ,

(See part one here.) Who says golf is a waste of time? Sometimes you can derive the most inspirational lessons from a round of golf. Here are more of the nine life lessons that I pulled out of yesterday’s game:

Integrity allows for apples-to-apples progress tracking

I admit that in my younger days I often “fudged” my score, but only when the golfing gods were being particularly mischievous and unfair. I mean, I know that missing a 3-foot putt means you’re supposed to putt again and count both strokes, but in my mind it shouldn’t have counted as a miss because I could try that putt all day long and never miss it again.

Then I played a couple of rounds with someone who had the same philosophy, times ten. I realized that if I wanted to keep up I was going to have to cheat on an unprecedented scale – and that made me very uncomfortable. The only way this was going to work for me was to do the exact and complete opposite – and fanatically track every stroke and penalty knowing he was going to “win” the round. Then I could always claim a personal win, knowing my score was right and his was not.

The surprising thing was that I found I didn’t end up in situations to fudge things as often as usual. And I had an accurate record of this game, and all those that followed. My game improved, also my mindset, and there was a serenity and sense of honor that I wanted to experience more often. These days I play it straight – although sometimes it enters my mind that some golfing gods, gremlin or higher being is intentionally screwing with my game, and it’s hard to resist the temptation to record the score fairly instead of accurately.

Minor changes are amplified the further out you go

When you line a putt up wrong, it may only wrong by an inch or two when it’s rolled two feet, but by the time the ball has rolled thirty feet you’ve missed the hole by a yard. This is even more evident when you’ve lined up wrong from the tee box, because there’s a long way to go before it stops travelling in the wrong direction.

If it were possible to steer a ball in flight, golf would be a strange game indeed. The earlier you can determine that you’re off course, the sooner you can institute corrections. Fortunately, life allows for constant course correction. We are not locked into an inescapable trajectory – we can decide a new direction the moment we realize we’ve botched our aim.

Fixing it yourself feels better than someone telling you how to fix it

The guys I usually play with had been somewhat helpful in showing me how to compensate for a wicked slice that has consistently plagued my drives. Unfortunately, these “solutions” meant making accommodations for the slice instead of fixing the problem that was causing it. What I really wanted was to undo my bad form, not learn to live with it.

I came into Sunday’s game ready to try a couple of new ideas that I came up with and tested at the driving range the previous week. The results were amazing on the range, and even held true in the field under the pressure of an actual game. I was proud of my new improved skills and even prouder that I figured it out on my own. It was also great to have an audience who could appreciate it.

This is not to suggest that the help from my friends was useless or unwanted. I have asked for help on occasion, and not just out of desperation. Fixing it yourself sometimes means asking for help.

Stay tuned

for the final round as we’ll tee off from the seventh hole next time.

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