Monday, 24 August 2015

It's All Relative

I wrote an article today, essentially bragging, about my latest round of golf.  I was feeling rather self-satisfied--not because I'd shot an even par round--because, for perhaps the first time ever, I'd managed to really do the best I could with what I had to work with. Looking back on the round, I couldn't think of a single shot that I hadn't tried my best on.  I may have hit a few stinkers, but I'd made the same effort on every one.  That felt very rewarding.

Someone was kind enough, after reading the article, to congratulate me on being "some player."  I thought about this and, while I appreciated the compliment, I also realized that it is all relative.  Whether a person is a player or not has very little to do with his score in my opinion.  What counts is how he plays.  I, for one, would rather play with someone who can't break a hundred, but is good company, has a good attitude, and respects the game, than a scratch player who is miserable, self-absorbed, and arrogant.

Golf teaches you quite a bit about life if you're paying attention.  For one thing, golf teaches you that no matter how good you may think you are, there is always someone who is better, or at least will be better on a given day.  You might be the number one player in the world and you will still find yourself being beaten more often than you win.  Actually, that isn't quite true, because, over a seven year stretch, Bobby Jones won more than sixty percent of the Majors he entered.  Tiger had a stretch where he was just about as dominant.  But, the fact remains, golf teaches you to be humble; whether you like it or not.

Golf teaches you that life isn't just about winning and losing.  In fact, the best golf we ever play, or ever watch, is the golf where it could go either way.  And, while we may remember the winner more than the guy who lost, without the challenger, it wouldn't have been as fun, or as memorable; for the winner or the fans.  In golf it really is more important how you play the game.

I think everyone, regardless of what they score, or where they place, should be content to say they gave it their best shot, and did the best they could with what they had to work with.  This is true in golf; and I think it's true in life.  We can't all be CEO's, and we can't all be champions.  But if we play the game with honour, integrity, and a good attitude--and live our life the same way--no one can expect more from us, and I think we should be satisfied.

There was a time when all I cared about was what I shot.  Now, I try only to care about how I played.  If I had a good attitude, tried my best, gave every shot, or almost every shot, the attention it deserved, then I am satisfied.  We all want to score our best every time out, but we won't.  Golf isn't like that.  I regret all the rounds I wasted because I was so caught up in how I was scoring, instead of focussing on how I was playing.

I've had some incredibly enjoyable matches that I've lost.  I've also had some very forgettable matches that I've won.  It really is true: it's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game that really counts.  That's true in golf, and it's true in life.