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Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Lesson From Gerry

My buddy Gerry taught me lots of things by the way he lived.  He was smarter than your average bear; a big, loveable, mountain of a man.  He was no Ben Hogan, but he taught me a thing or two about how to really enjoy the game.

Gerry helped me appreciate that it is actually not only okay to outwardly take some pleasure from the good shots, it is important that you do so. I had always been one of those guys who acted like a good shot was nothing to get excited about, because I felt I was supposed to hit good shots. I had somehow convinced myself that outwardly enjoying or savouring a good shot was somehow uncool, or in bad taste; that it was being arrogant, or conceited. But Gerry taught me that it was really okay to savour the experience of a good shot or a good round, and really let it soak in. In fact, he taught me that not to do so, means you are missing out on the joy of the game.

I haven't really been wired that way. I have been a guy who preferried to think about the putts I missed, or the shot I hooked out of bounds, instead of the good shots I hit. In retrospect, I really should have paid more attention to Gerry, who could shoot 100, hit a bunch of wicked slices and duffs, but, over a post-round beer, only seem to remember and want to talk about the pure seven iron he hit on number thirteen. It took me a while to figure out that Gerry's approach was the way to really enjoy the game of golf. For Gerry, this came naturally. He was simply being himself. For me, a guy who has traditionally been a glass-half-empty kind of a guy, this approach has had to be learned.

Instead of moaning about the short putts I missed, I want to be immodest enough to talk about the great seven iron I hit, like Gerry. I always loved to hear Gerry recount his great shots. I shared his enthusiasm and his joy. It was infectious. So, from now on, those who don't want to hear about a good shot I hit probably shouldn't ask me how I played, because I intend to try to become more like Gerry and have a selectively good memory when it comes to my game.

I'm going to try never again to whine about the three footer I missed, preferring instead to talk about the twenty or thirty footer I made. That isn't being immodest, or a braggart. In fact, it is whining about shots missed that is really being immodest. Everyone misses three footers, so who am I to whine about missing one? Do I think I'm too good to miss a three footer? If I talk about anything, from now on I hope it will be that great drive I hit, or the chip in on sixteen. I want to be a glass-half-full guy. 

Instead of saying, "I would have shot 75, but I missed three short putts," I'm going to happily say, "I would have shot 80, but I chipped one in on seventeen." It's the same round, but from a different perspective. To stress the chip in that prevented an 80, or 100, instead of the missed putts that prevented a 75, or 95, isn't just being modest. It's being real, and it's being positive, and it's just the kind of thing Gerry would have said. He was a guy who enjoyed his game every time he teed it up. He wanted to play well, but he was also a realist who managed to really understand what golf is all about; having fun and savouring the memories. Thanks, Big Guy. I sure miss you.