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Sunday, 9 July 2017

Patience

It is often said that patience is a virtue. And nowhere is that saying more true than in the game of golf. Perhaps it was a golfer who coined the phrase. I don't know. But it was patience that Bobby Jones had to learn before he became perhaps the greatest champion we've ever seen. To Bobby Jones, patience was not just a virtue, it was the greatest virtue.

Consider what Bobby wrote in his book Down the Fairway:

    "In this play-off with Chick, at medal competition, I was two strokes down. But I had a different attitude. Some way, I wasn't in that frantic hurry, about getting those strokes back. It was as if something deep in my consciousness kept counseling patience. Patience! Somewhere lately I heard ir read that the greatest asset of Harry Vardon was his perfect realization of the cold fact that no matter what happened, there was only one thing for him to do--keep on hitting the ball. I hadn't heard or read that, at Flossmoor; and I cannot say that such a plan was in my mind. Indeed, I had no plan. Instinctively or otherwise, I managed to keep on hitting the ball, and not trying to wrench back those strokes immediately. And presently--presently they came back to me, in a sort of normal and ordinary manner, and some more with them.
     So maybe that is the answer--the stolid and negative and altogether unromantic attribute of patience. It is nothing new or original to say that golf is played one stroke at a time. But it took me many years to realize it. And it is easy to forget, now. And it won't do to forget, in tournament golf."

Patience isn't just a virtue. Patience, plain old unromantic patience, is the virtue most to be admired in great players.