I was watching my son play golf when it dawned on me; golf is like life. I also realized that I often treat it more like bowling.
As I watched, I found myself studying the golfers every move. Suddenly, I began to recognize important life skills being revealed.
As they stand on the T box, the first thing they all do is locate the flag, their ultimate goal. The next step seems to be clarifying that goal. They use various ways to determine how far away it is, if it is straight ahead, to the left or right, what’s between here and there. All of this information ultimately helps them decide how best to start. Sometimes, it’s simply how far can I hit which club the most accurately? If the answer was 200 yards but there was a water hazard about 200 yards between the golfer and the flag, then an alternate route would need to be determined. If the choice became hitting to the left for the best alternate lie, then the appropriate club for that shot was chosen. At that point, the golfer has a new intermediate goal; their ultimate goal has not been abandoned, but it has been broken down into smaller more achievable steps. Those smaller steps, or shots, are carefully considered, calculated and executed, independent of the ultimate goal. Regardless of how close or far from the desired location the golf ball lands, the golfer goes to where it actually is, which is not always where they wish it was, and begins the process again. The ultimate goal of the hole by the flag is still there, but, again, getting there is broken up into smaller, more achievable steps or shots. This continues over and over again for each hole and each round. The golfer tries not to lose their temper or get upset if the ball doesn’t land where they wanted it to or thought it should have, but if they do, it doesn’t change the location of the ball. The location of the ball never gets closer to the desired goal until the golfer stops, considers where it actually landed, where they need it go, how best to get it there, what tools to use, etc…just like life. And just like life, if they can’t let go of their thoughts and emotions about the past shot, it tends to negatively affect their future shots until they do. It’s a conscious choice they have to make.
As I thought more about golf it occurred to me how much of a process or journey the game is, like life. At the end of a round I hear golfers talking about, not only the ultimate score, but specific holes or shots, the way we talk about milestones in life. I’m not a golfer, but I have to say I have certainly developed a whole new respect and admiration for the game.
Recently, I noticed I was in one of those “auto-pilot” modes; where you just sort of go through the motions and hope that the bulk of your To-Do list gets done before you go to bed in preparation to start all over again. As I was watching this golf match I realized, this is how I should be living my life, but instead I was treating it more like bowling. I’m not a regular bowler and I’m sure, like most sports, there’s a lot more to it when you know more about it. However, from my beginner’s perspective, in bowling you have a goal, you pick up the heaviest or most powerful tool you can handle, take aim and give it all you’ve got. You roll the ball down the alley as straight and hard as you can, aiming for that one pin that you hope will somehow have a domino effect and knock down all the other pins. If all 10 pins don’t fall down the first time, you try the same thing again. If that doesn’t work, wait a little until things reset themselves and then try the exact same thing all over again. The bowler and his/her goal continuously return to the same spot, the way I was beginning to feel when I woke up each morning. The golfers, on the other hand, continue to move forward to a brand new goal. I’m not saying bowling isn’t fun, my family loves a night of bowling, I’m just noticing that the game of golf may be a better metaphor for a how to live a fulfilling life.
What games would you compare your life to these days?