The Pace of Play
Golf gives you an insight into human nature, your own as well as your opponent's.
One of the more interesting traditions in golf is the handshake at the end of the round. It's an agreeable gesture, and one that suggests the just-finished match was somehow comparable to gentlemanly combat.
But there's another good reason to shake hands. Call it sudden and fleeting friendship. I've seen it happen countless times: at both heavily starched clubs and weather-beaten munis.
Some bond occurs during a round. Four strangers meet on the 1st tee, eye one another carefully and set off. A few hours later, they will be striding off the 18th, wreathed in convivial grins and sticking out their paws like old lodge brothers.
Acrimony is possible, of course, even if it's unspoken. Like all social interactions, there is always the danger of some livid fractiousness. Curiously enough, it will likely have nothing to do with politics.
The golf course might be the last place left on the planet where snorting political opposites can meet in charmed equanimity. In golf, there is, however, a real social chasm that divides people. Religious differences have nothing on this. Economic disparity, you say? No, it's much more grave than that. It's all about pace.
Take those four strangers on the 1st tee. As they work their way down the fairway, they are glancing nervously at one another's golf game and get-up, dealing with the gnawing fear that one of them might be the jerk who ends up trashing the afternoon round.
The gaper who views a round of golf as an excuse for laughing it up with pals and a cooler of beer on the back of a cart, this guy will be a little trepidatious about sharing a round with some lean and hungry police dog of a player.
You know the guy -- pressed and immaculate, hits a 2-iron farther than you hit your driver, finds time to count everybody else's strokes and penalties. As my mother used to say, a real pill.
But if, like me, you hate carts and love a good, zesty walk and a snappy tempo, the sight of a guy weaving up to the first tee in a golf cart, steering with his elbows as he juggles a mug of beer and a slice of pepperoni pizza... this is enough to make you grind your teeth into powder.
The handicap system might make it possible for players of various skills to play together, but there is no equivalent system for balancing out the fast players and those who play at what might politely be called a leisurely pace.
The brisk players don't call it that, of course. Especially when they're trimming their jets on the tee-box of a par 3, their faces turning steamed lobster red while the cheery schmoozers on the green ahead pause to finish off some magnificent shaggy-dog story. If the jolly putters only dared look back at the tee-box, they would see the walking definition of Lock & Load.
I would count myself among the game's hot-footers, even while I know there are some scratch players among my acquaintance who consider me slower than Bolivian mail. It's all relative. I hate to be one of those seething schmucks, forever jingling the change in his pocket as he waits in the fairway, but that's the way I'm wired.
It was one of those chance meetings on the golf course, however, that changed my whole attitude. After work one day I had stopped off at a short executive course for a fast nine. I had, alas, not quite left the office tensions behind. Ripping along at an over-caffeinated pace, I was just butchering the ball.
After hockey-sticking the ball around the 3rd green, I stormed up to the next tee-box and came upon an old man, sitting alone. A sad smile came over him and he waved me through. "Go on, feller," he said.
Stooped, frail and quavery, he was in shocking shape. Studying him more closely, I was gripped by the fear that he was minutes away from death. I throttled back instantly and said, ever so casually, that I'd be glad to join him if he so obliged. He was so tiny, so sparrowlike, I figured that if something happened I could carry him back to the clubhouse on my back.
After bunting a short little drive up the fairway, he confessed that he'd just left the hospital, where his insides had been keelhauled. He had spent four months on his back, dreaming of the watercolors he'd paint someday and thinking of this very course. We poked along in the gloaming, talking of all these matters.
When we were done, I walked him back to his car. He pulled out a little portable canvas seat so he could change his shoes. He told me to look in the trunk, and there I saw some of his new watercolors.
The lines were done by a shaky hand, but they were bold. I helped him put his clubs away and we shook hands one last time. As he drove off, it occurred to me that after joining up with him, I had played out the last six holes in level par.
After that, whenever I've felt my nerves ratcheting up like a paint-making machine and my game about to go spiraling out of control, I try to think of the calm deliberation I felt that evening with the old man. Next to him, I felt like Hercules. So why not feel that way all the time?
A year later I saw that man again. He was on the next fairway over and waved heartily as he strode down the fairway. He still had that determined stride; stronger, but calm and paced.
That day a year ago, I thought I was helping him; but it was he who taught me a lesson of a lifetime.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Golf Book
I think there is so much more here than pace. He took his focus off of himself and put it on someone who could use his help and his game automatically got better.
I was behind a car that was going 10mph on a 40 mph road and they were taking forever to get in a driveway. I said, "Will you hurry up! Gee Whiz!"
As I passed, I saw a very old woman shaking and trying to get to her destination.
Her husband was dead, her kids had moved away and she was trying to get the things she needed for a life that was very lonely and in dire need of a friend.
I cried and fussed at myself for being so self centered, that I didn't have time to say a prayer for a very lonely great grandmother that could sure use it.
I picked up a young woman carrying a suitcase. She said she was doing someone's laundry. She wanted to drop it off at a motel, take some money for diapers to a friend and go to another small town where she said she lived.
But when we got to the place where she was dropping off the money for diapers, judging by the people coming and going and the sheets over the windows, we were at a crack house.
I saw the money I contributed go up in smoke, literally. I gave her the dickens and left. I was pissed. [Pardon my language.]
At first, I could do nothing but mumble. But then something inside me started to change. Sure, I could continue to bad mouth her and I would be self justified in doing so. but what did she get from me?-a few bucks, a ride and a lashing tongue. What would that change?
So I started praying. Here is a little girl and a whole bunch of people who could use the Lord's intervention.
If all you get is me, you didn't get much. But if I can get my eyes off of poor little me, I can invite the Lord into our equation and make a real difference.
God is about to break up Satan's playhouse and every one of the demons strutting before the demon prince, bragging on all the the mischief they are creating, are about to watch their playhouse go out of business and each of the participants be translated into the Kingdom of God. This all may not happen overnight, but as I breathe, it will happen.
No, I am not going to the law, I am going to pray without ceasing. There are an awful lot of people associated with that situation that don't need my condemnation; they need my prayers. "He that would glory, let him glory in this- that he knows Me." [Paraphrased]
I know I got off track, but taking our eyes off self and focusing on another makes life far more enjoyable for both them and us.
Here are some quotes that make you think...
True heroism is remarkably sober and very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.
- Arthur Ashe
"Maybe you can't change the whole world, but if you have love in your heart you can make small differences every day, which really does change the world, one life at a time."
Customer Experience Specialist
[This is also the motto of Chicken Soup]
Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. Some of the greatest success stories were created by people who were addressing a problem and it became an opportunity to develop an awesome future that did not previously exist.
- Joseph Sugarman
It is not by accident that the happiest people are those who make a conscious effort to live useful lives. Their happiness, of course, is not a shallow exhilaration where life is one continuos intoxicating party.
Rather, their happiness is a deep sense of inner peace that comes when they believe their lives have meaning and that they are making a difference for good in the world.
- Ernest A. Fitzgerald
When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles can happen.
~ Arland Gilbert
"Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don't just stand there, make something happen. "
- Lee Iacocca
The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, pour yourself into it; be the best you can be."
If you wish to know what a man is, place him in the right."
"Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices."
~ Benjamin Franklin
Have a great day!