One summer, while in Middle School, I took golfing lessons. And, if memory serves me, I was “pretty good” for a kid. I played a number of times with the group as well as my Dad and Grandfather.
10 or so years later, I played a few more times.
Then, about 7 years ago, I played again. I was invited by a client and one of the consultants on my team, who was doing some work for this client. The client was an avid golfer, and it showed, The consultant wasn’t bad either; he played a very respectable game. I, on the other hand, sucked. Embarrassingly so.
Since then, when people have asked if I play golf, my answer has been: NO!
My son Ethan is a natural athlete. He is exceedingly good at EVERY sport he has tried. Recently he took up golfing. This at least partially results from the fact that one of his personal training clients gave him a nice (as far as I can tell) set of golf clubs!
So, several days ago he asked me if I’d like to join him on the links. My response was immediate: “Sure would!” Although, in the back of my mind I was replaying the PAIN of embarrassment experienced during my last round of golf…
Even so, this was an opportunity to hang-out with my son (and, obviously, strive to BEAT him 🙂 ).
So, bright and early last Monday we hit our local golf course.
The match began as we drove up to the first tee off, with our cart. Just ahead of us were 4 older gentlemen who were walking the course. They had a tee time immediately following ours.
Knowing that we are both novices, we offered these gentlemen the opportunity to go before us, to which they responded: “No, you guys have a cart. Go ahead.”
Bummer, now we have an audience. I hate audiences, when I suck at something 🙂
Since Ethan had played recently, including several visits to the driving range, I asked if he wanted to go first, which he did.
The result, which I had expected for myself: He dubbed it.
My gut wrenched from the pain I knew I was about to feel when it was my turn.
He then exclaimed to the observing gentlemen: “See, I told you. You should have gone before us.” To which they respectfully responded: “Oh, that is just a normal day for us. No worries.”
The knot in my stomach released at their polite comment. Maybe I’ll be ok, after-all 🙂
I then strutted up, plugged my tee into the ground, setup the ball and took a few practice swings…Upon taking my official swing I was pleasantly surprised with a “respectable” drive straight down the fairway.
Phew. We are getting off to a good start.
Through-out our game I was ahead of Ethan by several strokes, until…
There were 4 guys ahead of us. They must have observed that we were frequently waiting on them. So, they offered to let us “play through”, which means “pass them”, in golfing terms.
We are now at the tee off, to the 7th hole, with our new audience. Ethan goes first, with a fairly respectable drive.
It is now my turn.
After setting up the tee and ball, I seemed to be thinking more about the audience, than my game. In fact, the club felt different; awkwardly so.
I took my swing.
The result: The ball dribbled along the ground for a massive distance of about 40 feet.
At least no-one laughed (out loud) 🙂
I had Ethan grab the golf cart as I shamefully walked to my ball to give it another whack.
The result: The ball continued its behavior, by dribbling another 30 feet or so.
This continued for 7 STROKES. My lead over Ethan was now gone, as he was unaffected by the audience and played just as consistent on this hole as he did the others.
Son teaches Dad a lesson: Don’t worry about the audience. Just play.
Finally, after we got out of sight of our onlookers I regained my composure, respectably finishing the course.
I’m not going to tell you what our final score was for this 9-hole game, as the handicap was around what the par is for the course 🙂 Golfers know what I mean…
The story doesn’t end here, as we plan on this being a weekly event. And, my goal is to take the lesson from Ethan, to heart: Just focus on the game and don’t worry about the audience (or what other people think) no matter how good (or not) you are at something.
Bottom-line: Worrying about what other people think simply ruins your game (and life).
All the best!