Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Life is a Par-Tee

    When I started playing golf for the first time, I could never have expected just how difficult it really was; the professionals on TV make it look so easy! Through the past few years of effort and dedication, I’ve not only been able to learn more about the game, but a few life hacks along the way. This is a list of the top five life lessons I have picked up from golf!

Number 1: Play the Ball Where it Lies.

Sometimes even the most perfect swings give you bad shots, ones that leave you stuck behind a tree, in the bunker, or in the tall grass. It sometimes seems like it is going to be impossible to make a comeback for par from where you landed. But there is a rule that once your ball lands, you can’t move it to give yourself a better shot; you have to play it from where it lies. Life is kinda the same way; we can’t always pick and choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we play out of them! As one of my teammates often says, ‘Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react.’ A bad shot in golf is the perfect way to put this quote into practice. You can’t control where your ball lands, but you can choose to take the best, safest shot possible and come out on the other side of your obstacle!

Number 2. There is a reason golf carts don't have rearview mirrors.

This is the most important lesson in golf, but it has been the hardest one for me to learn! After I have a bad shot, it normally messes up my game for a few holes, and it’s pretty hard to get back on track. I spend too much time focusing on how bad the last shot was, that I don’t focus on correcting it and giving myself a better shot with the next. It’s always more important to take a breath, reset your mind, and set up for success on the swing that’s coming. You can’t rewind and redo bad shots and can’t look back to the past! I think the designer of golf carts had it right when he didn’t include the mirrors, he knew it wasn’t important to dwell on swings in the past, but instead to focus on what is in front of you! 

Number 3. Follow through matters!

Your swing technique is the most important part of your game! It’s divided into three main parts; the back swing, impact, and follow through. Most people think that impact is the most critical, but even scientific studies have shown that the follow through is actually what makes the shot! If you fail to follow through and stop your swing early, your clubface is closed off giving you quite a nasty hook. If you follow through too quickly and lose control, leaving your club face open, you’re sure to get a far slice right. But if you control your swing speed and follow through completely, you are sure to get a square and straight drive down the fairway. Like in golf, follow through in life is critical to your success! Whether it is follow through in your work to complete tasks well, follow through with relationships to maintain connections, or follow through on your goals to ensure your success, the way you finish your swing is what really counts!

Number 4: Keep your head down, keep your eye on your own ball. 

My swing coach, Ryan Straight, has spent a lot of years as a PGA Golf Professional and knows the game of golf like the back of his hand. The thing he loves to remind me of most is to keep my head down, if something is wrong in my swing, that’s often the first thing he tells me to try fixing. It seems like a simple answer to come from someone who knows how even the slightest motions can affect your shot, but he is almost always right! I sometimes get excited and lift my head too early to see where my ball lands, messing up the rest of my swing…or maybe I see someone beside me making a great shot and I lift my head to watch their ball instead of mine. In golf, it is so easy to lift your head to watch someone else’s shot and allow it to wreck your confidence. If you see someone else have a good shot right before you, it’s easy to feel the sudden pressure to impress them back! But in life too, I have found it pretty easy to catch myself in comparison; to my teammates, family, friends, or even someone on social media. I often compare my progress to theirs, my goals to theirs, and my accomplishments to theirs. One minute we may be proud of the big trophy we are carrying, but seeing someone else’s can instantly make us feel like ours is a little “too small”. By keeping your head down and your eye on your ‘own ball’, you aren’t worried about what others are doing & it keeps you from getting caught up in comparing yourself to others!

Number 5: Relax.

I included this one, just for my dad. As my golf coach he came up with lots of quick quotes to tell me that would remind me of things to fix in my swing. “Relax” meant two things; I had to stop swinging so hard and let the club do the work, and to also just chill out! I would often allow myself to get worried or worked up about the little things like one bad shot or even the attitude of the girls I may have been paired with, but he wanted to make sure I stopped worrying and focused on the shot I had next. While I can say it drove me absolutely crazy to hear the word “relax”, and it's now become a running joke between my parents and I, it's fun to now look back and laugh at how right he really was! Learning to relax and not let the little things bother us is something I am guilty of not doing enough, but I always find that when I do, I find myself being happier and more productive in what I’m doing!

    Golf can be one of the most frustrating yet rewarding sports to play. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities it has given, allowing me to tee myself up for success! (I have been having a blast getting my golf puns up to par!) Life is a part-tee, and applying these life tips will help you up your game and allow you to enjoy the life you live!

                                                                                Find me on the fairway!

                                                                                         Mary Jones

                                                                                         State Northern Region Vice President

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