Sometimes our lives move so quickly that we don’t even have time to breathe, much less stop and reflect on what just happened. Daily events can throw us curve balls in the form of kid meltdowns, work crises, relationship hiccups, home repair, dental emergencies—you know the drill. These daily trials test our patience and beg us to react calmly. However, because we’re so caught up in the hustle and bustle of our lives, sometimes our decisions are frenzied instead of well-thought-out. It’s almost like we need special training on how to react to challenges in the heat of the moment.
Here’s where the game of golf comes in.
As golfers, we do get this special training. Golf gives us plenty of challenges and tests of character. While not always fun, these challenges are what make the game all the more beautiful.
Let’s consider the cadence of a round of golf. Every drive, shot, pitch, or putt we make elicits a reaction from us. We hit the ball and then subconsciously decide not only how we’ll react emotionally, but also what we’re going to do physically.
For example, let’s say we hit a shot from the fairway straight into a sand trap (big bummer). Then let’s say we try to get out of the sand, a sandstorm ensues, and it takes us three more shots to get out (bigger bummer). In this situation, there are many ways we could respond. Do we declare how much we hate the game and pout our way through the remaining holes, or do we shake it off and try again?
Perhaps we’re not pouters, but rather foul-mouthed sailors. Regardless of how we react to a bad shot, that reaction is important—because pinpointing the initial response in the heat of a not-so-great moment can be very helpful for other life situations. In essence, golf gives us the chance to fine-tune our not-so-fine initial responses, and perhaps finesse those a bit.
Golf also reminds us that bad shots are not life-ending events, nor are they indicators of our worth. In other words, we don’t have to take them so personally. They don’t mean we are the worst golfers on the planet. The mishaps simply mean maybe we need to tweak the way we do things, perhaps concentrate more, or keep our heads down, etc. Similarly, we can transfer this logic to life; little blurps are not “end of the world” events, so our reactions don’t need to be catastrophic either. By learning to breathe through the rough moments in golf, we can do the same when the going gets tough in life.
Finally, golf reminds us that there are always opportunities to turn things around, and in the end, it’s the effort we put forth that counts. Think about that round we played where everything went wrong. Everything except that on the last hole, we happened to sink a 15-foot putt. How did it feel? Pretty awesome, right? Shots like that remind us that no matter how dark things are, our games can always be turned around.
So, as we hit the links, remember that each round not only has the power to make you a better golfer but a more balanced person as well. Take the lessons learned on the course back into the real world and see what happens.