As I navigated 18 holes of golf this weekend with my Dad, I found myself thinking about how the game of golf uniquely reflects life. Most athletes would say that sports in general reflect life, and they are right in saying so. Adversity, perseverance, teamwork, dedication etc are inherent in all sports but I believe that golf most precisely reflects life. Consider the following principles:
- Individual Sport
Golf is an individual sport. We have tried to make teams, but golf in its purest form is about you. Your swing, your decisions, your shot, resulting in your score. People can teach you everything about the game, but at the end of the day YOU must execute.
Life is a lot like this. Your time, your decisions, your habits, your relationships, resulting in your life. Not unlike golf, you can get a bad break here or there. Heck, you can get a string of bad breaks. It happens. However, it is your response to those bad breaks that will define your life. People can teach you how to live, but it is up to you to decide.
At the end of your life, the Lord will hold you accountable for how you lived. Be sure to live well.
- Great Challenge = Great Opportunity
If you have ever attempted a round of golf, then you know how hard it is. You must use a small club to hit an even smaller ball, to a relatively small target, hundreds of yards away, guarded by just about any natural barrier imaginable. For some reason, this challenge keeps me coming back. I have played the sport for 20+ years and I keep coming back.
And therein we find the principle: Great challenge = Great opportunity.
All it takes is one incredible shot to redeem a round. The routine shots in golf are not the ones that you remember; it’s the shots that you achieve against all odds.
The long par 5 you reach in two.
The bunker shot you hole out to save par.
The punch shot through a small gap in the trees (I have failed at this shot a few times and have the scar to prove it).
You face many great challenges in each round, but those challenges are an opportunity for greatness. You will never hit the miraculous shot if you don’t take a chance.
Life is a lot like this.
You are faced with great challenges, but those are great opportunities! Go after them with everything you have so you can at least say you gave it your best shot. Who knows, perhaps you will pull off the miraculous.
I think the Lord calls us to live like this. A life of full engagement, viewing challenges as opportunities, and impossible situations as faith expanding experiences.
- Every Shot is Unique
Variables, variables. So many variables. Wind direction and speed, lie, grass length, distance, pin location, green speed, humidity, temperature, etc.
I think this is one of the reasons golf is so challenging.
Every shot is unique.
Life is a lot like this.
Every day is unique.
Full of variables as well. Relationships, challenges, frustrations, experiences, lessons, opportunities.
I often lose sight of this, usually around Monday when I am wishing my days away to get back to my weekend. I hope for an “easy week” so I can get to my weekend.
I sacrifice 5 days in order to relax for 2.
Something about that math just doesn’t add up for me. And it shouldn’t, because life doesn’t work like that.
I think about when the Psalmist says “Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.”
I ask myself this: Given the reality that my life is fleeting, how then should I live each day?
Golf has been called the Greatest Game Ever Played, a gentlemen’s sport they tell me.
Now I don’t know about all of that, but what I do know is that this game has taught me a great deal about life.
Here is the one difference though: I will play many rounds of golf, but I only get ONE shot at life.
Better make it count.