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Golf parallels with real life

“I know I am getting better at golf because I am hitting fewer spectators,” said former president Gerald R. Ford. Comedian Bob Hope once joked, “It’s not hard to find Jerry Ford on a golf course – you just follow the wounded.”

Recently, my friend Wayne Brent shared an outstanding life-lesson from the world of golf. Wayne retired from the software industry, and his interests include golf, reading, and bridge. He and his wife have been married for 34 years.

Here is Wayne’s original illustration: “Playing golf is an enjoyable hobby, and a great way to be active regardless of one’s age and physical status. Golf offers the option to measure performance in an accurate way, but unlike many other games, it allows you to pick the level of challenge you face on the course. Taken together, those two characteristics provide opportunities to see things from a perspective we don’t often have in daily living.

"Choosing the course’s length is one way to choose the degree of difficulty which is best suited to my golf skills and physical abilities. It’s done by picking the tee boxes from which to play that day. There are several sets of them, usually four, which are varying lengths from the hole. The tee boxes are designed to accommodate how far you can hit the ball straight; not just how far you can hit the ball…which is a big difference!

"This is a sport where effort does not always equal results. Recognizing one’s limitations often produces better performance, and that, frequently, gives better results. While it’s difficult to admit one’s limitations, understanding this difference makes for a more appropriate test of one’s golf skills, and for a more enjoyable experience on the course!

"This is where golf’s parallels apply to life. It’s usually best to match the challenges for the energy and abilities I have today; not for the abilities I had yesterday, nor the skills I hope to have tomorrow. While golf lets you pick the degree of challenge you wish to face that round, life, as we all know, doesn’t always afford us that luxury.

"That ‘choice of challenge’ makes golf a good laboratory for testing one’s abilities, and mental resilience by seeing the results in ‘real time.’ If I’m paying attention, and recognizing how I perform best on the course, it can help me to think, and maybe see the parallels, on how best to live life while managing the factors I am able to control. Picking the right challenges upon which to focus makes one more productive and life more rewarding!”

Wayne’s classic illustration reminds me of Proverbs 16:9 NIV, “In their hearts humans plan their COURSE, but the Lord establishes their steps.” With the help of God, hazards and traps can be avoided.

One last thought from World Golf Hall of Famer Ben Hogan: “As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”


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