GOLF AND LIFE
Life has often been compared to golf by passionate practitioners of the game. To an extent, any sport or game can be compared to life in a metaphoric sense. But golf, by its basic structure and nature, lends itself almost perfectly to this idea.
Hackneyed as the subject may be, I could not find a hub on it. So, here it is, inviting erudite livers (no pun intended) of life and swingers (ditto) of golf clubs to come and share their views.
Let us start at the beginning of the game. As a player awaits his turn at the first tee, he has time to speculate on how he would like the first shot to go.
If he is nervous or jittery, he would also think of less attractive places in front of him towards which his apathetic ball might prefer to head. He would worry about the future strategy to be employed to overcome a less-than-perfect first shot.
Another player might be of the ever optimistic and high adrenalin variety who thinks of his shot going far and straight, in the centre of the fairway.
And there might be yet another whose mind is calm and relaxed. He does what he has to as he lines up and swings his club, without worry or happiness at the possible outcome of his action.
Is not life so similar? Every person has a mind which comes into play and dominates his actions.
Once that first tee shot has been hit, life's journey has begun. One cannot go back and take that shot over again; one has to press on; walk up towards the ball and find it; hit it as it lies, without any adjustment. In between the shots, one tries to maintain a pleasant demeanor and share in the joy or sorrow of fellow players despite the thinking that goes on inside one’s own head. Each lives his own life, even as we all share a laugh or cry with those close to us.
At the end of the game or of life, the best man might well be the one who had a quiet and calm mind, who did not worry about the past, nor dwelt too much on the future. He had a general idea of where he wanted to go, but concentrated his energies on the task at hand.
Let us look at it in another way. Life is full of repeated successes and failures, hopes and disappointments.
- They are all contained in a finite time frame that has a beginning, middle, and an end. It is a journey from a start point to a finish line.
- We all have our own views and thoughts on how to get to that final destination.
- We all have different ideas of what makes us happy or sad. We all have different expectations.
- Everyone's journey form the beginning to the end is unique, full of different obstacles that we attempt to avoid or conquer with our own individual talents.
Does that sound more like life or more like golf? It is hard to decide.
Bill Clinton once said, “Golf is like life in a lot of ways - all the biggest wounds are self-inflicted” He knew that from personal experience! But even the lesser experienced amongst us will vouch that, despite the best of effort and intention, we will occasionally falter and go wrong somewhere.
Yet, regardless of that wrong shot or wrong action one sometimes achieves an excellent result. And at others, despite an excellent shot or action, pure bad luck prevails and lands us in trouble. Destiny or fate plays the same role in golf as it does in life.
Jim Corbett, popularly called “Mr Golf Etiquette,” said that golf is like life in three specific ways:
- Even though we know what to do and we know, more or less, how to do it, it is still very easy to screw it up.
- We keep making the same mistakes over and over.
- It's easier to see the mistakes that other people are making than it is to see the ones that you are making.
Despite the company, the socializing and the competition, golf is a fairly solitary endeavor. Most sports have opponents or opposing teams who win by fighting and trying to defeat the other. In golf each person plays his own game. There are challenges but they are the ones presented by the course, not by an opponent. Life is so similar. Others might affect us but, for the most part, it is for each of us to do what we will with our lives.
A smarty-pants once said that to play a game of golf or to live life, one component is essential: You have got to have the balls for it.
There are some who regard golf and life as just plain fun: A walk around the park, knocking a few balls around as you go. However, neither is like that. Not for long at least. And, even during the short periods when it is, it’s advisable not to have one’s balls knocked around!
Let me conclude by asking a contrary question: How is golf different from life? In one way, I know for sure it is. Golf has a final hole, called the nineteenth, where golfers converge after the game to have a drink or two, and share a few laughs. Life too, has a final hole to which its players retire, but this is a lonely and quiet little place: It’s called a grave.