A Better Day

Week 69 – July 9, 2021 – Lessons Learned from Golf

I’ve learned a lot about leadership, teamwork, and communication from curling. I spent many years on the ice, playing the game recreationally and competitively as an adolescent and young adult. I stopped playing for many years, because of my work and my kid. I played once in a while, but never returned back fully committed. I cannot wait to get back into curling when I move to Prince George on a permanent basis. It’s a great place to meet people, but also engage in a sport that involves strategy, technique, and finesse. I’ve always thought I must have been a farmer from the prairies in a past life. I love to curl, but also enjoy a round of golf. There is something I like about these sports (i.e. no contact and there is nothing flying at my face). All good things.

Lately, I’ve returned back to golf. I am pulling out my clubs from the attic, realizing some clubs are missing and I have no idea where they are. It’s been about 20 years since I’ve golfed, with exception to one school district scramble event about 10 years ago. I wasn’t too serious about golf as I am about curling, but I enjoy the sport for similar reasons. I love the technical aspect of the sport. I love the social nature of the sport. And, I love the easy pace of the sport. Those are three easy check marks for me, but my family claims I’m a bit competitive too. I don’t see that, per se, but I always want to know the score by the end of the day. Isn’t that the point of the whole game?

My dad, twin brother, and older sister will often play pitch and putt in Burnaby, near my dad’s place. I would often watch my phone blow up at least once a week while they would text each other to finalize plans to meet and set up a tee time. I am on the Sunshine Coast and catching the ferry and COVID-19 restrictions gave me little motivation to catch the first ferry to play. However, in the last couple of weeks, restrictions are easing and I’ve been out to the Lower Mainland to visit my family for Father’s Day, my mom’s birthday, and to fix my car. We went golfing on Father’s Day. We only played 12-holes because we had a lunch reservation at the other golf course. I borrowed a few clubs from my dad. Gotta love muscle memory… I placed second.

What a head game… Golf is more like an opportunity to challenge and tame your ego. It’s so easy to listen to others and get inside your own head. What I had to figure out was how to compete with myself and everything else is feedback. The beauty of feedback is that you have a choice of either taking it or leaving it. If you take it, what are you going to do about it. If you leave it, you have to let it go. Golf provides clear feedback. When you figure out a way not to listen to your siblings and not to take things too seriously or personally, your ball and the score tells you how you are doing. There is no disputing it. It’s all in the data… aka. your score. Much like curling, you have to approach each stroke one at a time. You have to trust in the game and your overall score. Don’t focus on the win. Focus on the nuances of the now.

Admittedly, I was surprised to be in second place amongst the four of us for our 12-hole game. It’s been so long since I’ve been out and the first few holes (and possibly more), I was way too in my head, getting frustrated, and worried about what others thought of me or my performance. I spent a good chunk of that game trying to navigate around my ego to really focus on the task at hand and not to worry about the big picture because what I was doing at that moment, whether a putt or a pitch, it was all contributing to a bigger outcome. The return to the game became more about TRUST in the game, my abilities, and myself in order to succeed. I also had to focus on not throwing my club. That was important too. Another exercise in letting go. Ugh.

Well, I returned back to the course for a second time. The photo is an image of my ball hitting the green on my first shot. It was glorious. Take a photo, to then follow up my first stroke with 4 putts. Gah. Five strokes for this par 3. What the heck. A quick and friendly reminder of what golf was trying to teach me. One stroke at a time. Every stroke counts. Don’t take anything for granted. I took the feedback soon after the first hole and I was focused on my putting game. I needed a firm putt. I was always tentative, worried that I would miss the hole. In the end, I would always be short. I had a few double bogeys during this game, but I continued to focus on my putting game. It got better as the game progressed. A firm putt, with confidence in speed and aim. I was getting in the hole more often than not. I was pretty proud of myself.

My game is not perfect, but it is definitely improving. I started to just focus on each shot and accepted where my ball had landed after each stroke. That’s all I can do… and do my best with each shot. I did par a few holes. I don’t want to focus on the bogeys and double bogeys. I was also focused on not comparing and not shaming or blaming. I was embracing BrenĂ© Brown during this game and my skills at it were getting better with each hole. We completed the full 18-holes before going for lunch and I was pretty sure I had the highest score and placed fourth. Nope. I came second again to my brother. Two strokes behind. Can you only imagine if I didn’t 4-putt some holes? Gah. Nonetheless, I was very happy with my overall performance. #nexttime