Golf and its Microcosm of Life Lessons

I golf a lot. 

I find every round of golf to be a psychological, emotional, physical, and sometimes, if you let it, spiritual journey. Over the last 30 years, my relationship with golf has been one of many ebbs and flows, ups and downs, highs and lows and that’s why it offers so many sacred life lessons. 

During a typical 4-hour round of golf, where walking, not riding is a must, here are just a few of those lessons.

Detach from the outcome of events

Recently I played in a tournament with 3 other people that I did not know that were all very high handicappers (which means they were very inconsistent golfers).  Of the 18+ teams, my team’s aggregate handicaps were the highest – which means we were the weakest team. Before the round, you are encouraged to bet on your team or any other team that has the best chance of winning.  And, I always bet on my team, but after looking at the pre-round standings, I knew my team was the weakest and decided not to throw money away, it was a suckers bet.

We all meet at the first tee and made our introductions. Everyone was smiling but I could tell they were a little nervous to be playing with people they didn’t know – having to perform in front of strangers is stressful. Since it was a “Scramble” format, which means that everyone hits a shot and all subsequent shots are made from the best shot of the 4 players, the stress is minimized since a player can rely on his teammates if he/she hits a bad shot.  Being the lowest handicapped player, I was entrusted with captaining this team. With very limited knowledge of the other 3 players skill levels, I set the driving, approach shot and putting order – which means every person hit a shot in a certain order from 1st to 4th (since there are 4 people on the team).    

For 18 holes we stuck to the order and shot routine and from the first hole an interesting dynamic began to take shape.  Each person made critical shots at the most opportune times.  Hole after hole, shot after shot, someone stepped up and performed. Everyone hit shots that they normally would not, when the situation called for it.  The mood was light and fun, I continued to praise every one’s shot despite the outcome and motivated the group to swing within themselves hole by hole, and the 4 ½ hour round went fast and we never really focused on the score, we just focused on executing our process shot after shot.   

After the round, we went to the scorer’s table and turned in our card to find out that we won the tournament!  One of the more fun rounds was had with 3 strangers, although I lost $800.00 by not betting on our team. 

You get what you concentrate upon

Golf is a very unique, in that it is one of the only sports that is not reactionary.  In basketball, the game unfolds and shots are taken during a high tempoed game without a ton of time to react.  The shooter shoots without much time to think about where his hands have to be during the shot, how his legs have to react, or where the ball is positioned.  Although, shooting free throws in basketball is much less reactionary, since you have time to “think” and that is why free throws are so tough to make in pressure situations.  The same is true for baseball.  Hitting and catching are very reactionary skills that happen in split seconds.  You aren’t really thinking about the mechanics of where the bat is during the swing when you are in the midst of hitting, or where your feet are positioned, your body just reacts to the pitch.  It’s the same for catching a ball.  You don’t have time to think about mechanics, your body just responds.  Although, pitching is different and much less reactionary, since the pitcher starts from an idle position, and has time to think about mechanics before he/she executes the pitch.  That is why the pitcher is one of the most if not THE most valued player on the field.

Golf is truly a proactionary sport and it is this proactiveness that creates so much difficulty.  Golfers have too much time before executing a shot for bad thoughts to creep in. Stand on a tee box, and focus on the pond in the fairway and more times then not, your ball is going there.  Focus on the sand traps in front of the green and more times then not, your ball is going there.  Focus on the house off the right side of the fairway and more times then not your ball is going there.

So, here is the real nuts and bolts.  As in Golf or life, you are creator of your own reality because you have focused upon making it happen.  Everything that you are experiencing in your life right now has been 100% designed by you. Your relationshipsyour financial situation, your career, your health have all been directed by you.  Here are two suggestions to start designing the reality you truly want and improving your golf game.

Creation is simple – You want something, you dwell upon it consciously for a while, you consciously imagine it coming to the forefront of probabilities, closer to your actuality. Then you drop it. 

Do not personally give any more conscious consideration to events that you do not want to happen – Any such concentration, to whatever degree, ties you in with those probabilities.

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