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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

You Need Some Luck

Gary Player is reputed to have been the man who coined the phrase, "The harder I practise the luckier I get."  Sam Snead also said words to the effect that you get out of this game only what you put into it.  This is true.  But it doesn't tell the whole story.  The game of golf also involves luck.  The best player doesn't always win.

In fact, Jack Nicklaus said that golf is the only game where you can win twenty percent of the time and be the best player in the world.  If you want to win all the time, better to take up tennis, or some other sport that doesn't involve luck the way golf does.

Sam Snead should have won more than one US Open.  He was unlucky.  Tom Watson should have won at least one PGA championship.  But it just wasn't in the cards.  Golfers need to be able to accept the fact that no one ever promised that golf would be fair.  All you can do as a golfer is try your hardest and accept that sometimes the putts will drop and sometimes they won't.  That's golf.

I was watching our new Canadian phenom, Brooke Henderson, as she became the first Canadian woman to win a Major since 1968.  As she putted it in on the eleventh hole from off the green, some ninety feet away, Annika Sorenstam was heard to say that no matter how good you are, you need some luck to win a Major. Brooke was not only good, she was lucky.  She made a hole in one.  She made that improbable putt.  But she also put it all out there and came away with the championship.  And we, particularly Canadians, celebrate her success.

I had some recent success at a much lower level this past week.  As I looked back on it, I remembered good shots.  I remember driving it straighter than my opponents.  But I also remembered a tee shot that just stopped short of a hazard thanks to the wind and resulted in a birdie instead of a bogey.  I remembered at least three key putts that barely fell in the hole instead of lipping out, including the winning putt.  I was lucky.  I could have just as easily lost had I not had some good breaks.

So, while hard work will likely be rewarded in this game, never forget that you need a bit of luck--a few good bounces--if you're going to win.  And maybe that's one of the reasons why golf is the greatest game there is. You cannot control the outcome.  A perfect drive might end up in a divot.  A terrible shot might bounce off a tree and end up in the hole.  You have to be a bit fatalistic.  You have to realize that to some extent the outcome rests in the lap of the golfing gods.  

I'm okay with that.  I think the golfing gods are a benevolent bunch.  They will eventually reward the right attitude.