Monday, 21 September 2015

It Isn't About You

Golf teaches us great lessons.  It teaches us about ourselves; and it teaches us about life.  Once again, we just may have been taught another lesson at the Solheim Cup.  Hopefully, Suzann Pettersen has learned something.  If she has, she may just become a better person, and a better golfer.  In this game we are always having to learn.

I must admit that, although I'm not a fan of the nationalistic displays at the Solheim or Ryder Cup events, I can't help but watch because of the golf.  I think golf usually has a way of rising above the nationalism, and the win-at-all-cost mentality that is so prevalent in the world and, sadly, often at these events.  

I just read Suzann Pettersen's apology for her poor sportsmanship.  Whether she is really contrite, we'll only know if her behaviour improves on the golf course.  She has always been ultra competitive, wearing a game face that often leads one to believe she is having the worst time of her life as she competes.  She is not the only one to approach the game this way; but it is not an attractive way to play this great game--storming off the green to the next tee as your fellow competitor is left to putt out; or not, as in this latest misadventure.  This is not the first time we've seen this type of behaviour from Suzann, and it is not very pleasant to watch.

In her apology, Suzann talks about being "in the heat of the battle."  This is perhaps only a figure of speech, but I don't think so.  Her approach to golf has always been like doing battle; with herself, her fellow competitors, and the golf course.  But golf is not supposed to be about going into battle.  You do not face an opponent.  You have a fellow competitor.  It is about competing, not doing battle.  Your fellow competitor, according to the rules and etiquette of the game in no way acts as an opponent, trying to hinder or oppose you as you play your game.  That is not golf.

Contrast this sort of behaviour from Pettersen with the behaviour of Jack Nicklaus, who became famous for, among other things, his concession to Tony Jacklin at the Ryder Cup.  Golf's greatest Major champion was famous for being gracious, even in defeat.

In golf, it isn't about you.  It isn't about your team.  It's the game that matters.  Golf may be one of the last bastions of good sportsmanship in this win-at-all-cost world.  As we see in this great game, our greatest champions are, or were, great sportsmen and women; gracious in victory and defeat.  I certainly hope Suzann understands that she did herself, her team, and the game a disservice when she  acted as she did.  Call it karma, or the golfing gods, her behaviour served only to inspire the Americans to play better.  

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: in golf, and in life, nice guys do not finish last and it isn't just about you.  It's the game that counts.