The game of golf has many similarities to life. One can never predict how the game will pan out. If you play competitive tournaments, you can make all the preparations and practice all your shots a million times but when you actually get on the course to play the match, there is no certainty that things will be as you would have liked it to be. There are always the extraneous factors which you cannot predict. A perfectly good shot could end up in a divot on the fairway or you may find your ball in the sand bunker where someone did not repair his footprint or indeed your ball could land in a bird’s nest on top of a tree. (Pardon the golf jargon). The point being that there are far too many uncertainties. I find it amusing to observe different people on the golf course because the character they depict on the golf course tells me a lot about their character in real life. If a person cheats on the golf course then I conclude that this would be his style in real life (President Donald Trump is infamous for his brazen cheating on the golf course). If the person is a tough competitor who does not quit in the game of golf, I can safely assume that this would also be his real life character. There are those who are fun to play with as they are light hearted and not put off by the misfortunes which are a part of the vagaries of the game of golf and then there are others who throw temper tantrums when things don’t go their way. These people remain happy as long as the going is good but when they are not playing well, they showcase the uglier side of their character. They are foul tempered and miserable. Playing a five hour round of golf with such a person can be very unpleasant.
Having played the game of golf for more than two decades I reckon that a golfer will play his best golf every 2-3 days out of 10. These will be the days where the universe conspires to favour the golfer. Long putts go in unexpectedly, a bad shot which is supposed to go into the deep rough luckily hits the tree and the ball ricochets back on to the fairway, he gets a hole in one. My apology to the non golfers for using golf parlance but I am sure you get the drift. There are the other 2-3 days where nothing goes your way. Whatever you do gives a bad result. Those days are an uphill struggle all the way and you end up doubting your own swing and it can very easily lead to a total loss of confidence in your game. The rest of the 5 rounds are normal. You get your fair share of good luck and also get the unfair rub of the green.
The “fair weather golfers” that I have mentioned above are happy only 20-30 percent of the time they play golf. This is when luck is favouring them. The rest of the 70-80 percent of the time when they are not supported by Providence, they are miserable. They complain about the weather, blame their caddy, talk about their old shoulder injury or anything that helps them believe that it is not really their fault. In a nutshell they wallow in self pity and try to blame whoever or whatever they can blame. The end result is that the negative mindset just makes things worse. The more they despair, the worse their game becomes and frankly it is very unpleasant to play golf with these people. I try to avoid them on the golf course.
My assessment is that in real life the statistics would be similar to golf. 20-30 percent of the time we get the unexpected lucky breaks; 20-30 percent of the time life treats us unfairly and about 50% of the time we are on even keel. I would wager that my fair-weather golfing friends would display the same character in real life too. Happy 20-30 percent of the time because they think that it is their divine right to be blessed with good fortune and blame the world for everything for the rest of the 70-80 percent of their life. Is it not unfortunate to be unhappy 70-80 percent of one’s life?
I think that in golf as in life, every part of the journey is to be enjoyed and celebrated. When things are not going your way, it is a time to rely on your fortitude to deal with difficult times which are surely a part of everyone’s life. Arnold Schwarzenegger made an impassioned plea to the people of America after the 6th January insurrection where he showed the sword of Conan and drew a parable saying that every time the swordsmith put the sword into the fire and then quenched it, the sword became stronger. Thus, just as the fire strengthens the sword, the insurrection would make democracy stronger. In life as in golf the hard times are the opportunity to make ourselves stronger. Only when our shots in golf go wrong do we get an understanding about where our weakness lies. This knowledge is ever so important if we want to improve our game. In life the setbacks also give us an opportunity for introspection; to reflect on our shortcomings and then to address them.
Masochistic though I may sound, I do enjoy the rounds of golf when everything is going wrong for me. It gives a different perspective of the game. It offers the scope to go deep and draw from the reserves of my will power and fortitude. I love to keep fighting till the end and never give up. Of course I do not invite difficult times in golf or in life but the reality is that I will encounter those moments in golf and in life. The journey called life would be incomplete if we do not experience the entire topography of life. Our greatest moments are not during the ordinary times. Anyone can cruise the placid stages of life; glory lies in conquering its raging storms.
“When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
John Green leaf Whittier