Last Friday, I had the honor of golfing with my friend Keith Froehling in the Children’s Miracle Network Golf Scramble in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. It was a 4 man scramble, and as I haven’t golfed in a year (regularly in about 6 years) I was a little apprehensive. I grabbed the clubs out of the shed, cleaned off the cobwebs and loaded them in the van, not sure what to expect. I had never met the other two guys that made up our 4 man team so I was a little worried about how the day would turn out.
I’ve had those days where you get placed in a situation where you feel completely uncomfortable and you smile (falsely) waiting for the day to come to an end. I’ve golfed with some guys who take the game real serious and some guys who should just put their clubs in the next church yard sale (I’m closer to the second group than the first) so I was relieved when, upon meeting our team mates, none of us had the intentions of taking home the trophy. We were there to support our friend and the cause.
As we all addressed the ball at the first tee (hole #10, it was a big scramble), I’m certain the team behind us shook their heads, maybe in frustration but mostly to avoid laughing out loud, as each of us took our individual turns shanking the ball into the woods, rough and anything other than the fairway. I took a deep breath and thought, This is gonna be a long day…, and it was, but it was more than that. I learned a great deal about life and myself during those 18 holes of self-induced hilarity.
#1 – Never lay down on the tee box or the green because people will assume you are having a medical emergency. All I wanted to do was take a few good action shots, gheesh!
#2 – No matter how loud you yell “FORE!” the guy watering the greens can’t hear you when he’s wearing headphones and hooking up hoses.
#3 – No matter how bad the golfer, we all try to act like Tiger Woods when there is a crowd of people watching or a free driver to be awarded for the longest drive. At least we made a lot of people laugh!
The fact of the matter is, none of us were professionals and I know that the only pressure we had was the pressure I put on myself. Whether it was to impress my team by showing them how good (LOL) of a golfer I was or to impress the people who were watching the various holes or to impress myself, I had a lot more fun and a much better time when I stopped trying so hard and I just hit the ball. It didn’t matter where it landed, we were there as a team and one of us would help the others make it to the green.
We managed to accumulate the highest score by 11 strokes last Friday. Jerry Rice would be proud, 80! But you know what, we all had a blast. How is that possible? We are playing one of the most frustrating games man ever invented and we are failing miserably. I’ve never laughed more on a golf course or enjoyed a round of golf more than I did with the 3 guys I played with, my 3 friends.
So Eric, Charlie, Keith – here are some of the real life lessons I learned this past Friday:
#1 – Golf and life are about avoiding the hazards and traps along the way to the goals we set and surrounding yourself with a team to help you get there. Whether you’re talking about work, marriage, raising kids or your walk with God, the traps are easier to avoid when you’ve surrounded yourself with good people.
#2 – In most cases, the only pressure you feel is self-imposed. On the golf course and in life, we tend to over estimate what we can accomplish and place ourselves in stressful situations that we could easily avoid if we’d just use the tools we have around us. My Father-in-Law always tells me to let the club do the work and you know what, he’s right. When I relaxed and just swung the club, I made better contact and got a far better result than when I try to accomplish more on my own than I am capable of. The same is true for life. God gives us tools and yet we think we can come up with a better plan. If we’d just use what He’s given us, things would go much more smoothly and we’d avoid a lot of those pressures we face daily.
#3 – This may be the most important. Make the most of every opportunity. Not only did I make two new friends, but I got to meet a lot of great people from the companies that were there sponsoring the event. We didn’t win the tournament, but I think we did the things that position us to win in the long run.
Golf, it’s a wonderful game. It’s humbling, yet every once and a while, you make good contact with the ball and you get a glimpse of what you can do with a little effort. It’s those moments that push you through all the sand shots, water hazards and lost balls in the woods. It’s kinda like life, we get a glimpse of what could be, and it drives us to do more than we ever thought we could accomplish. God gives us those moments so that we can see ourselves as He sees us. It’s up to us to make the most of the situation. Step up to the tee and take a swing. That next shot might just be a hole in one! “FORE!”