Last week, I played my first rounds of golf since last summer – 50 holes in three days. On day four, I could barely move. Golf is humbling – in every way – and it’s good for the soul.
Humility – need I say more?
Hope – each tee brings a sense of anticipation. “I’m going to figure this out on this hole!” A fresh start on a new tee – a Bridie, Par, Bogie, or Double Bogie. I love when a hole gets a name.
Acceptance – I stink. It’s okay. I’m getting better.
Truth – cheat and you’re dead to me unless you confess it. Mulligans are fine – just fess up. Wiffs don’t count in my game. I toss balls out of bunkers. Until I get another lesson in the sand, I am not wasting your time.
Tenacity – stick with the mantras: stay in the barrel, head down, arms straight, wrists firm, follow through, power from the hips, low and slow and watch it go, trust the club, open the club face, close the club face, mark your ball, don’t bring the club too far back, don’t sway.
Overwhelm – is that a virtue?
Tact – anybody who golfs with me is a master of diplomacy.
Wonder – on day 3, on par 3 hole 16, I chipped my little pink ball into the hole. Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! I could barely speak! Nobody witnessed that Bridie but me . . . and my father. I know he saw it.
Faith – the Gospel of John states, “In my father’s house, there are many dwelling places.” Well, my dad dwells on the golf course – even though he passed in 1988 – in his 70’s golf garb of bright polyester pants and collared shirt, white belt and shoes. His light blue eyes twinkle beneath the rim of his round yellow hat. When I hit into the rough, I hear him say, “Grab a club and blaze away.”
Beauty – look around.
Orderliness – look around again.
Consideration – golf etiquette is training for life. Last summer, a direct (and loving) friend murmured, “Get your shadow out of the line of my putt.” No messing around there. I was horrified. I had shirked on my other-golfer-centeredness. I learned as a twelve-year-old that as long as I don’t hold people up, I can be a golfer. To this day, I break out in a sweat when I lose my ball. When I put my club back, I grab my next one. My pockets are full of spare balls – just in case I play like me.
Honesty – tell it like it is. See above. Period. Let others know what annoys you; otherwise, it will screw up your game. I told my son that he should pull the cart of up the right side of a right-handed golfer. I blamed my unsolicited advise on my father. My son said, “Your dad is not God.” I thought, “Humph!” My son pulled the cart up to my right for the rest of the round.
Patience – self-explanatory.
Imagination – my husband told me that he has a client who looks at the ball, looks at the desired destination, shuts his eyes, and opens them right before he swings. He imagines the ball going right where it’s supposed to go. I’ve tried this a few times, and it worked. Some call it creative visualization. I call it a miracle.
Forgiveness – if you can’t forgive yourself, don’t golf.
Self-discipline – no tossing clubs allowed. And if it happens, loop back to forgiveness. You get a double whammy of mercy.
Joyfulness – no matter who makes the long put, all celebrate! I brag about my friend’s Eagle, and I witnessed my dad’s on the 18th hole in Long Beach in 1976. Yes, I still remember! After looking for his ball, he shouted, “It’s in the cup!” Miraculously, I am now part of the “chip-in-the-cup joy club” thanks to last week. Did I already tell you about that?
I get why my dad loved golf, a respite focused on distance, green pitches, angles, slopes and friends all wrapped in an afternoon of courtesy, comraderie, presence. Game on!