On not giving up
So the greatest game in the world has humbled you a bit, has it? Welcome to the club. It’s a club with millions of members. In fact, everyone who has ever driven a ball off the first tee – Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, and every weekend hacker who’s on the tee right this very second – is in it. You’ve got a lot of good company. Believe it or not, joining this club is actually vital if you want to get out of the game everything it has to offer.
Contrary to your wishes and mine, this game would really stink if every shot we hit was perfect. I know you think that sounds a little weird – or way off base! – but it’s very true. It’s the challenge of the game, the fact that sometimes we feel completely lost, feel our skills have completely abandoned us, that facilitates its compelling nature. It makes the game addictive. For if the lows don’t come then the “rush” of the highs cannot be felt. They simply wouldn’t exist. The game would become one long “flatline” of wasted time and boredom.
I heard a great story a while ago regarding golf course architecture, one of my interests. A budding architect was with his mentor and contemplating a strangely placed bunker on a golf hole. He turned to the famous designer and asked, “Why would you put a bunker there, right in the middle of the fairway?” The well-studied architect responded calmly, “Because if it’s not there, you cannot experience the pleasure, the thrill, of avoiding it.” A wise answer from a man who understands the nature of the game.
Unquestionably, something vital about the game would be lost if we never experienced the humbling moments. The deep, dark “bunkers” are crucial if we want the game to teach us something, to draw us back. This game is like life. People in the “real” world can come out stronger, better, more competent, capable, and wiser if they have experienced some difficult times. (And it’s inevitable). And when they’ve learned to steer clear of that same bunker, the feeling of achievement and satisfaction is that much sweeter.
Unquestionably, all of the top players in the world have gone through slumps. Times when the hole was the size of a thimble, times when the swing creaked and leaked and felt like it was disintegrating. But plug away and all of a sudden a faint light at the end of the tunnel will appear. And you get out of the bunker.
And let’s face it, this game, even at the best of times, is awfully difficult. There are, literally, a million moving parts when you swing a club. Losing your tempo, losing your form, losing your confidence, losing your game, is bound to happen to you at some point in your “career.” You’ve got to take heart and play on! When you feel like you’re rising out of that “bunker,” and you will, it’s going to be amazing. You’ll be greatly rewarded. You’ve just got to persevere as the game is cyclical by nature. This simply cannot be avoided. Nobody in the history of the game has played well ALL the time.
If you need to take a “breather” from the game for a few days, weeks, do it. If you need to stop thinking so much when you play, do it. If you need to spend more time with your family to gain a “true” perspective on what really matters, for goodness sakes, do it! Usually only you, in your heart of hearts, knows what needs to be done. Sometimes a reality check is the first – and most important! – step in the process. You’re wise if you follow your gut.
Thankfully, golf isnt meant to be a simple, mindless act like tying your shoes. Each time you play it’s different. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes, well, it really stinks. You just havent a clue. It’s like you’ve never played. But be happy about this! It’s the reason why the game of golf has the power, the potential, to turn a ho-hum wedge shot that lands in the middle of the green into a divine masterpiece. It’s what keeps us coming back.