Everyone who plays or follows sports has their view of which is the best. Of course, such notions are relative — there is no definitive or objective answer. That said, I think golf is the most applicable game to life. To illustrate, I am using today’s post to share what I have learned from golf over the last ten years.
Before sharing the list, let me elaborate a little on why I have focused on the past ten years. As I have shared in other posts, I came close to walking away from the game of golf in my twenties. The love I had for the game came mainly from the fruits of it, which was the success I experienced as a high school golfer. When the success went away, and my scores increased, I began questioning why I even played the game in the first place.
Here’s what I learned.
- A performance based on results does not lead to peace of mind.
- Expectations are deadly. Just hit the next shot!
- Doing enough will never be enough in golf or life.
- More practice does not guarantee lower scores, but less practice guarantees higher scores.
- Hurry leads to bad decisions, poor play, and less joy.
- The embarrassing shot you just hit was hardly noticed by the other golfers who are fixated on their next shot!
- Your score is only one indicator (and often a poor one) of how well you played on a given day.
- Beauty is only seen when you look for it, and it is everywhere on a golf course.
- Golf is a game of recovery, not perfection.
- The game is best played, not analyzed.
- A conservative strategy, coupled with an aggressive swing, often produces the best results.
- One swing thought is almost always one too many.
- Learn the names of your playing partners, and cheer them on. Your battle is with the course and your soul, not with them.
- What you think about, see, and believe about yourself affects your score more than your technique.
- Great golf is almost always boring: keep the ball in play, hit toward the middle of the green (not at the pin), and two-putt. Repeat.
- During a great round, you must contend with the inner belief that you deserve to keep playing well. More rounds have been sabotaged by insecurity than “choking.”
- There might be nothing more satisfying in life than spraying a ball into the trees, humbly chipping it out to the fairway, and getting up and down from 100 yards to save par.
- There might be nothing more tempting in life than trying to thread the ball through 20 trees and onto the green. I have made more double bogeys doing this than I care to admit, but the handful of birdies I have made have been awesome!
- Putting is 101% mental and belief. My putting turned around when I started believing this.
- Negative self-talk does not end on the 18th hole. Learn to do away with it before you begin the round.
- A certain amount of luck is needed to make a hole in one. But there is a certain amount of skill required to hit it close.
- Golf was never meant to be played riding in a cart. Walking helps one see the landscape, hear their thoughts, and feel the life of the course. I learn this lesson repeatedly as most of my rounds are in a cart.
- And regardless of what you shot today, there is always tomorrow. At least for now.
There is no game like the game of golf. I say this as it has helped me learn more about myself than any other sport I have participated in. To the achiever, it is the most insidious game ever created. To the humble, however, it is a gift. A gift that teaches one that their self-worth will never be found in any game, pursuit, or result.
And this last lesson might be golf’s greatest. Golf taught me that the only way I would find peace with it, as crazy as this might sound for some, was to look elsewhere. For me, it was discovering that Jesus really loved me — the broken, imperfect me, with secrets I would not want to print here and insecurities I could list for days on end — that freed me from the need to be good at golf, great at work, and the world’s best (even though I am one of the most flawed) husband/dad.
Every time I am tempted to think I am turning into “someone” or that I am important, I am reminded to go tee up.
A few shots in, and I am quickly humbled once again.
Golf, it turns out, opens your soul to a lot more than just golf.