The Game of Life
I have great admiration for professional golfers. They have a mighty career task. They plan their schedules a year in advance, hire their own caddies and make their own travel arrangements.
They play in a professional-amateur tournament the day before competition begins, which requires being gracious, sociable, and attempting to play well, so they don’t embarrass themselves.
They usually start the tournament on Thursday and run the risk of being disqualified by missing “the cut” on Friday, which leaves them out of the money, even though they still must pay for all the expenses of that week. Win or lose, they are on the road again Sunday evening or Monday morning, heading to the next city, the next course.
Their pay for each tournament is listed in the national papers for everyone to see, and there is no space allowed for explaining that their results were gained or lost due to high winds, freezing rain, or a myriad of other mishaps.
Life and golf have a lot in common. Golf is a responsive, rather than reactive, sport. So is life.
It takes the intelligence of good course management, coupled with sensitivity and awareness, to be a good golfer. You can have the most expensive club membership and golf cart, deluxe clubs, and top of the line golf clothes, and still be dreadful at the game.
You can have the perfect swing and no concentration. You look good but you lose. You can have a terrible looking swing, yet get the job done anyway. You can play by guts alone and do okay, but the wear and tear on your body eventually catches up with you.
You must pay attention to the task at hand in golf and in life. Keep a clear mental focus. If you’re too tense, you’ll hit it short. Too relaxed, you’ll lose control. Miscalculate the yardage or misread the wind and you will choose the wrong club. Talk too much? Everyone will hate playing with you. Too serious, or too quiet? You’re no fun.
The more you hang on to the mental picture of holes played poorly, the more doomed you are to repeat the exact same mistakes. This is true in life also. Practice does not make perfect, particularly if you practice an inaccurate move. Just about the time you think you are at the top of your game, the wheels fall off.
Sometimes you just can’t do anything right and sometimes the gods are with you and you can’t do anything wrong, until the next time you play. Golf, like life, is an exercise in learning how to deal with and respond to adversity. Focus on your fear and your fear takes over.
Being a long hitter looks impressive, but it can cost you in control and accuracy. You can have a great long game, but you still need to be able to settle down and putt.
There is such a thing as golf course etiquette. Violate the rules, and people will talk about you behind your back.
The game looks like a walk in the park, but tell that to the players. Sometimes you play extraordinarily well, but your score doesn’t show it. If you lose your temper and show it, you pay a fine. If you are a professional, you have to continue playing, even if the weather turns bad.
Think too much and you second guess yourself. Think too little and you make costly mistakes. If the course is too easy, you can get sloppy. Too difficult and you find yourself in over your head.
Eventually, you find yourself “on the back nine.” Your options of playing it cute diminish the farther down the course you get. Sometimes, you can make up for mistakes and disasters that tripped you up on the front nine, make a turnaround, and finish as a winner, or at least, with a respectable effort to your credit.
So why do so many people play golf and so many more take it up each year?
Maybe it’s because it is perfectly acceptable to voice your anger and disappointment over a less than thrilling golf performance, but if you complain about your life, people aren’t nearly as interested, supportive or sympathetic.
Susan is the author of “Beyond Intellect: Journey into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind.” Learn more atsusanvelasquez.com.