How Life Imitates Golf
18 Lessons from 18 Holes
A good golfer has the determination to win and the patience to wait for the breaks. —Gary Player
Success in this game depends less on strength of body than strength of mind and character. —Arnold Palmer
Golf is a compromise between what your ego wants you to do, what experience tells you to do, and what your nerves let you do. —Bruce Crampton
Above: What lies ahead is beautiful, lush, and full of opportunity.
Life is a game full of unwritten rules, vague boundaries, and differing philosophies. Framed this way, it resembles what Mark Twain sardonically dubbed “a good walk spoiled” — golf.
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Both involve a delicate calculus and careful triangulation of what you want to do, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there. These finite inputs lead to infinite outcomes and proper preparation is key to (out)performance.
A leisurely nine holes on verdant Cape Cod this past weekend had me thinking about the many parallels between two four letter words—life and golf—that often elicit much more explicit four-lettered ones.
Below are eighteen life lessons from the beautiful game.
It’s impossible to play without the right tools.
You can play alone but it’s more fun with a group.
It’s a lot harder than it looks.
It’s enjoyed by old and young alike.
There are no mulligans—every shot counts.
A caddy helps but only you can swing the club.
The best clubs can’t fix the worst swing.
Everyone has a handicap. Some are more conspicuous than others.
You don’t have to keep score, but you should if you want to get better.
It’s important to shout out your mistakes for everyone’s safety.
The only way out of rough patches is through them.
When in doubt, it it helps to choke up and swing a little easier.
Each round represents a new beginning. So does each hole.
Your competition is with yourself, not those around you.
It’s not how you start, but how you finish—a good putt beats a great drive every time.
There are times to play it safe and times to go for it.
There are many approaches but one ultimate destination.
What comes when it’s over is often the very best part.1
The starter is calling your name—you’re next on the tee box.
Grip it and rip it, baby.
Per my about page, White Noise is a work of experimentation. I view it as a sort of thinking aloud, a stress testing of my nascent ideas. Through it, I hope to sharpen my opinions against the whetstone of other people’s feedback, commentary, and input.
If you want to discuss any of the ideas or musings mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links that you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of White Noise, please reach out to me by replying to this email or following me on Twitter.
With sincere gratitude,
Perhaps Heaven and the Nineteenth Hole should be synonyms!