Choose Golf to Practice at Life

There are few socially acceptable situations in life where it’s perfectly normal to be armed with a set of 10 potentially dangerous rods of steel and dress like a total gimp.

As an opportunist, I  seldom miss an occasion to wear a tasteful lime green polo shirt, tartan or a yellow visor. Very dapper, which is why I decided to take up golf.

Golf’s a tricky game. One minute it’s all larks and merriment, and the next you’re huffing and mantruming (man-tantruming) over a poorly timed shot. Golf is the ultimate test of patience, mental stamina and focus. Aside from learning that your butt and abs are to remain clenched at all times when teeing off, golf has proven itself to be a game that requires the ability to ignore obstacles, handle bizarre occurrences and tolerate the most testing members of society. A seriously underrated set of skills.

It’s about Mental Endurance

The last round of golf I played started off on a bright sunny day, life was splendid. The first few holes went marvellously. I even questioned why it took me so long to take up golf. The answer came to me about 25 minutes later when I reached the fourth hole. Things began to slide rapidly downhill. After a few carefully calculated practice shots to allude that I know what I’m doing, I teed off and started to play like a total munter.

These are the moments that lead me to discredit my mental stability. Degree? Easy. Marathon? Easy. Moving countries? Easy. Golf? Meltdown. I was smiling and pretending to enjoy myself, all the while resisting the urge to punch my fellow opponent in the face for being better at golf than me.

By hole 6, I had well and truly dropped the ball. I found myself at rock bottom, playing parallel to the course, wondering how on earth I got here. Don’t mind me, I’m just catching some shade in the forest 75m to the left of the hole I’m supposed to be playing. One failure after the other created an avalanche of abominable playing that led me on a dark journey through a nine-hole golf course. I started praying for rain to prevent myself from beating my clubs against the closest tree.

After a quick sing-along to Eye of the Tiger and a few almonds to boost morale, I finally decided to pull myself together for hole 7. It certainly helped and made me realise how unnecessarily melodramatic I had been. We are relentless in our ability to create artificial problems for ourselves. Sometimes we need a pep talk to shake up our incredulous beliefs that we just can’t do it.

Obstacles are all over the show

Hole 7 had a little test in store for me and my new-found morale. An enormous sandpit that sprawled across the middle of the field. Could this nine-holes get any more Hunger Games? Had I known, I would have brought my bucket and spade. It was a pity that I was too busy trying hit the ball over a rare cactus plant to rest for a spot of sandcastles in the sun. It’s intriguing how such endangered plant species can spring up so spontaneously in the middle of a golf course. Perhaps this is why they are endangered?

Just when I began to admire my tenacity for overcoming these challenges, a Crow flew off with my golf ball.* No, that’s not a metaphor. An actual Crow. How does a crow steal a golf ball? Whoever trained that Crow was making a mint selling stolen golf gear. Either that or the Crow mistakenly believed that she lays perfectly round eggs named Titleist. Only in Australia.

I figured I had three options: play the rest of the game without a ball, steal someone else’s or go on a treasure hunt in the forest. I am a respectable member of society who likes to be seen to do the right thing. Alas, I also happen to be unnecessarily competitive about most things. Faced with the possibility of having my afternoon ruined by a bird, I realised I had to scheme an elaborate plan to stay in the game. I pretended to search for the ball in the forest, loudly declared I had found the ball, and then played the shot with my invisible ball. Fortuitously, the invisible ball happened to land in the exact spot where my dear opponent’s ball was. What a coincidence!  

In hindsight, I should have checked my golf bag as there were extra balls in there. Lesson learned, don’t be distracted or disheartened by strange happenings or peculiar objects blocking your path. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you.

People are difficult

There are two types of golfers in this world that have exacerbated my golfing pain. There are a few, albeit not many, awfully haughty and disdainful men on the field. They gather in packs and are genuinely disappointed to see females on the field. They’re easy to spot. You’ll find them sporting their Bulldog-licking-piss-off-a-Thistle face as soon as they’ve noticed that you’re either a female or not a scratch golfer. I’ve learned not to be discouraged.

Instead, I ensure I display high levels of compassion for the Wannabe Golf Gang. For these balding Dads, this is their only opportunity to be misogynistic snobs. The rest of their week is consumed with mundane desk jobs, peeling potatoes for dinner and supervising repeat episodes of The Wiggles. The least I can do is to allow them to feel good about themselves for one afternoon.

And of course, there is the laggard and indolent golfer. This is the golfer that uses a golf cart to ‘save his legs’. Maybe it will save them, although if you’re repositioning yourself for a shot, it’s less effort to shuffle around the ball than it is to drive the cart 0.5m. This is moderately frustrating to watch but not the worst part. This golfer has the audacity to drop cigarette butts and beer tops on the pitch, won’t let you pass in front even though his holding up other more enthusiastic golfers, and is quite likely to take a leak by the green mid-game. Look, we’ve all been there but a little discretion would go a long way.

I am still learning to ignore their crass and churlish behaviour. Just as I’m sure they are learning to tolerate the girl who sports a tartan ensemble and swings her clubs like crazed axeman. You can’t choose your fellow club members, but a little civility goes a long way.

A final note

Golf is excellent practice for the game of life. Bizarre, surprising and difficult situations arise in a short span of time and test our ability to respond. Maintaining a level of equanimity in stressful situations is hard work, particularly when smashing a golf club against a tree is far more satisfying. Turns out, I need more time on the course. If you’re serious about golf, but less excited about the prospects of witnessing fellow club members tee off of the arse cheeks of their friends, I recommend calling beforehand, just to ensure your leisurely Saturday golf game isn’t disrupted by a riotous stag-do. After all, golf is a game of unexpected occurrences.

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*At Canterbury Golf Club, Crows are notorious for stealing golf balls. A Crow did steal my golf ball. Alas, I have no photographic evidence due to the state of shock I was in. 
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