My dad always maintains that he never taught me a thing about medicine. There is no doubt, however, that he taught me a good deal about golf. This Father’s Day let’s take a look at what he showed me out on the course and then you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s fair for him to distance himself from my approach to medicine.
Spoiler alert: it’s not.
- Etiquette: Before even picking up a club for the first time we had a long discussion about etiquette. What do you wear? How do you behave on the golf course? How do you speak? What is the language? Being honest with yourself and those you are playing with is the most important part of the game. Bottom line.
- Get out there: You’ll never regret playing a round.
- Be disciplined: Have a pre-shot routine and stick to it. Visualize the ball going where you want it to then make it happen.
- Every shot is an opportunity: Every shot is an opportunity to hit the ball better than before. It is an opportunity to execute your plan and an opportunity to put it all together.
- No hole plays exactly the same twice: Even if you’ve played a hole before think about it as if you haven’t. Where is the wind coming from, where is the pin placed. Don’t be complacent.
- The best way to get out of trouble is to avoid it: Stay away from the sand traps, water and woods. This is difficult to do when my ball seems to have a magnetic attraction to hazards.
- When you didn’t avoid the trouble, know how to get out of it: Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Practice getting out of these less then ideal situations so that when it happens on the course you can get back on track.
- It’s all about weighing risks and benefits: If I swing the 5 wood I might make the green but I have a tendency to slice it. Worth the risk? Each shot makes you answer a similar question.
- If you are too easy on yourself you won’t get better: You need to deliberately make an effort to identify what you are having trouble with so each shot and each round might be better than the next. Few golfers are perfectly “satisfied” with their performance. These are the golfers who won’t improve.
- If you are too hard on yourself you’ll get worse: Golf is a mental game. There is a fine balance between wanting to improve and losing confidence. Find that middle ground.
- Play with people who are better than you: You’ll learn from their routines, their approach and their swings. Ask them for tips. Ask them to make you better. Be open and willing to receive feedback.
- Play with people who aren’t as good as you: Go back to the basics with them. It will remind you of some things in your own game that you take for granted and could re-focus on.
- Play to your strengths: This changes on the daily for me. In each round I seem to have a different thing working for me. Find what’s working and capitalize.
- But recognize and work on your weaknesses: Avoiding weaknesses is not a good enough solution. Spend time forcing yourself to improve what you need to.
- Putting is all about the follow through: You are just at the end of the hole, you think you’ve got the par in the bag but then you pull the putt. Putting seems like a small task but you’ve got to remember to follow through or the ball won’t end up in the hole.
- Golf can be a team sport but you still have to hit: Lots of tournaments and leagues have teams play together in either a best ball or net score style. You can rely on your teammates to help but you still have to have the skills to contribute.
- Nice clubs/gadgets don’t make you a good golfer: You’ll see people who’ve been using the same set of clubs for 30 years kick the pants off the young gun with the custom TaylorMade’s, ProV1s and GPS.
- But there’s nothing wrong with having nice clubs: The gear is fun.
- You’ll be humbled: Par, Birdie, Par, Quadruple Bogey. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll realize you don’t.
- The one sweet shot makes up for all the bad ones (in your heart but not on the scorecard): crave the feeling of a well struck ball. It’s what keeps you coming back.
- Girls don’t have to play from the reds: Golf is historically an “old boys club” but it doesn’t have to be. My dad taught me that I could play from anywhere I felt like with anyone I saw fit.
- When you leave the course you are still thinking about each shot: You replay it again in your mind and reliving it makes you want to get out and go again!
- You can play with anyone: Regardless of your skill level, if you know the etiquette and you are pleasant to be around you can swing a club with the best of them.
- But it’s best played with fun people who enjoy a pint (or a Diet Coke) at the end of the round.
Finally, my personal favourite and the basis for my approach to life:
Swing easy, hit hard.
Here’s to fathers everywhere and the lessons they teach their kids without even trying.
*These pics were from a solo Father’s Day round. Wish I could have been giving my dad a run for his money today but cross-Canada distances did not allow this time. He better get practicing for our friendly but relatively serious competition when our paths cross again.*