Kids, today I’m going to teach you how to laugh in the face of disaster, and the safest way to practice doing that is to: play golf.
Golf is a funny game.
Basically, it’s a very pleasant and relaxing stroll through some of the prettiest parks you’ll ever see, ruined by a bag full of sticks and a box of golf balls determined to never be seen again after you hit them.
So, why play golf if it’s so frustrating?
I suppose it’s because we have expectations that it will be fun, that we’ll make some good shots and people will clap at us.
Sadly, the words I hear most are: “Where the hell did that ball go?”, or, “How are you still able to walk after that shot?!”, and “Have you considered taking up Bingo?”
I’m not a bad golfer, for a weekend hacker. I’ve had my days. But every golfer has one game which stands out in the rubble of your everyday, normal bad golf game.
Mine was the day in 1995 at Keperra Golf Course, when I lost 14 golf balls and broke 3 of my clubs; things didn’t get much better on the second hole.
Actually, that’s not true.
I would have been better off leaving after the second hole, but your Grandad doesn’t know when to quit sometimes (or shutup…), so I played nine holes and took over 120 shots to do what an average golfer would do in less than 50 shots.
On the plus side I certainly got value for my money and saw quite a lot of the course.
Sadly, I really did break three clubs. Snapped the heads clean off two and bent a third which I tried to repair later, but eventually had to toss it out.
I felt like tossing out all my clubs that day.
Funny yarn – during a particularly bad game, a golfer kicked his entire bag of clubs off a bridge into a creek, then stomped off to the bar to drown his sorrows; that’s when he remembered his wallet (and car keys) were still in his golf bag.
Note: that golfer wasn’t me.
Anyway, that day back in 1995 your Grandad was given the most valuable lesson every golfer must learn; how to enjoy yourself when things are going wrong, or, to laugh in the face of disaster.
As I said, I was having the worst game of my life. By the fifth hole I’d only broken one club and had lost eight balls. I was covered in mud, scratches and bites, had hurt my back and nearly been bitten by a poisonous snake.
I’m pretty sure I was gibbering too.
That’s when one of my mates yelled out, “How much worse do you reckon it’ll get?!”
I shrugged and said, “Let’s find out.”
Kids, that was the moment a horror game turned into one of the most fun times I’ve ever had on a golf course. I lost more balls, broke more clubs and, while trying to drag a ball out of a creek, the branch I was holding onto snapped and I fell into the water.
Passing golfers watched my guffawing teammates drag me out of the stinking, weed-filled stream and shook their heads as we kept falling over laughing.
We must have looked like snappily-dressed lunatics.
We were snappily dressed lunatics!
Kids, since then I’ve played golf in the howling wind and rain, during a hail storm and twice while lightning was striking the course (until we got to a green where the Police had marked outlines around the two men who had been killed the day before by lightning. At this point, we decided we weren’t that keen to keep playing on).
But the cruelest part of golf is this: no matter how badly you played, or how many things went epically wrong, there will be that one, sweet, shot where every duck lined up and the ball sails magnificently down the fairway and everyone claps you on the back.
That one shot, will be what brings you back. That’s hope at work. Because next game, you’ll be hoping to do that again; twice.
Well, that didn’t happen that day in 1995. There wasn’t a single good shot in all the three hundred plus shots I had that day. So what bought me back the following weekend?
My mates. Their humour, optimism, sense of fun and willingness to shout me a couple of free beers after a shocking game.
For the record, I had a much better game. I didn’t break any clubs and only lost eight balls. I strutted off that course like I’d won a national championship.
And there was this, one, sweet, shot which, admittedly, sailed out onto a busy road and into a service station parking lot, but geez, it was a cracker.
Kids, life is full of disappointments, let downs, misfortunes, mistakes and crushed expectations. I can’t change that for you.
But if you can learn to have a bit of a chuckle at yourself, or when things are going mango-shaped and the absurdity of ‘everything’, then you’ll have a pretty good life.
Even if you play golf.
(Funny story, I had a photo I took last week of the only time I’ve ever put a ball on the green of the 5th hole on the Gladstone course which I was going to use in this post… but, somehow, I’ve deleted it. So, that’s another golf ball lost 🙂 )