I love keeping score. I love statistics. I have entered on my computer every score of every match I have played and where I placed. I know I have annoyed a few of my golf buddies by adding up the score in the middle of a round. I learned early on some of my golf buddies don’t want their scores recorded, which as a statistics buff I found odd, but I learned to live with this uncanny fact. Granted I learned that there was more I needed to control on the golf course besides my swing. I needed to control my attitude. Your opponents, sand traps, water and woods can create some real challenges and obstacles, but all of those are beyond my control. I found there was an attitude inside my head that if I did not control it will surely do me in.
I tried not worrying about the score for the first several holes. I learned that most pro golfers do not even look at the leader board until they are over half way through the course.
I tried not worrying about the ball I just sent into the water or the other one that just now landed me in the woods. The only swing that matters is your next swing. The present is the only thing that matters. Do your best now. The past is gone.
I tell myself most of all enjoy a beautiful day on a beautiful golf course with your buddies. After all aren’t friends what life is all about. What golfer on his death bed wants to be surrounded by his trophies? None. They all want to be surrounded by their family and friends. I agree with this concept, yet I know after a super bowl victory Tom Brady does not text on Twitter, “Spent a fun evening with friends playing football.”
So what is it about the game of golf that makes it such a gentleman’s game (or ladies game just the same) to the point that score rarely matters when playing with friends if it matters at all?
Today while reading about Tiger Woods’ drama off and on the golf course over the years something just as profound as it is simple and obvious dawned on me. Fist of all I do not mean to single Tiger out as an example. Fact is we all have our struggles and demons. The pressure placed on him in childhood may have been less than ideal. His own expectations in adulthood may have been unreasonable. Like many of us he tried so hard to control all of the obstacles around him that he lost control of himself. While becoming a famous household name he was known by millions, but did he know himself anymore? Admittedly he did not. Relationships were unsatisfying. Instead of seeing people as friends he only saw them as obstacles in his way of greatness.
This is when the profound, simple and obvious dawned on me. I also Googled Arnold Palmer this afternoon, and found when Arnold Palmer was on his death bed in a Pittsburg hospital he was surrounded by family and friends. He was not surrounded by his trophies and awards. People were not obstacles in his way of greatness. People were what Palmer’s life was all about.
I realized why so many of my golf buddies don’t keep score or at least not as meticulously as I do. The happiest person on the golf course is not the one with the best score. It is not the one with the most money in their wallet. The happiest people on the golf course are the ones who are at peace with themselves. They control their own attitude instead of controlling the people around them. Their integrity buys them peace in the woods and sand traps as well as on the fairways and greens.
The greatest opponent is the one inside your head. The greatest achievement in golf is to walk off the 18th green at peace with yourself. And a score card wont ever reveal the peace in your heart.