Steady Play Wins

I’m a golfer. Well…not really a golfer, more like a participator in golf. Andy Standley says. “If I start having to deal with pride. I just go golfing.” It has a way of humbling the best golfers in the world.

Just watch a PGA tournament sometime. You’ll see professional golfers hit the ball into hazards, water, sand traps and into the woods over and over. They don’t really show that stuff on Sports Center highlights. They always show some unbelievable shot that goes in the hole.

I don’t golf enough to be good at it. A wise man (my twin brother) once said golf is a sport that you have to play a lot to be good at it. I don’t play it enough to be good at it. I just play it enough to be frustrated.

Let the big dog eat!

I can’t hit the ball very far. I’m short and getting older so I’m pretty lucky to hit the ball 200 yards with my driver (the big dog). That golf phrase means to get the biggest club you have out of your bag and swing as hard as you can to hit the ball the farthest possible. My grandson says, “Grandpa, you gonna let the big dog eat?”

There are people that I play with that can hit the ball 300 plus yards. There is a sound that goes with that kind of club speed. A Sound that I can’t generate, but I do recognize. It’s a swoosh and a pop that is unmistakable. We call them “big hitters”. They can really generate a lot of power.

The problem with big hitters, although they can hit the ball far, sometimes they can’t hit it straight. You never know where it’s going to go. The harder you swing, the more difficult it is to keep it in the fairway. But, the big hitters turn heads. I’ve seen people on the practice green stop what they were doing to watch a big hitter. They’re like, “wow, I wish I could do that.”

The problem is, long drives don’t win championships. Seasoned golfers will tell you that the short game is what wins. The saying you hear on the golf course is, “Drive for show, putt for doe.”

I’m not qualified to give you a golf lesson, but there are things in every area of life that you can use to illustrate points about everyday life. Golf is one of those things. In golf, the short straight shots are what wins. Not the long powerful bombs, and the way you get your short game good is to practice, practice, practice.

Everyone wants to shoot the three pointer, everyone wants to hit the home run, everyone wants to throw the football 60 yards or hit a golf ball 300. But the truth of the matter is, although that kind of power can help on the short term, it isn’t how you win in life. You don’t start out shooting a basketball from 30 feet. You start out by shooting a lay up. You don’t start out throwing a football 60 yards. You start out just making sure you get your fingers on the seams correctly. You don’t start out hitting homeruns, you start out hitting off of a tee.

Any coach worth his/her weight knows to build great athletes, you build great people.

“The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight.  But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It’s the toil of shooting a basketball thousands of times that make the great ones. It’s the man or woman that is willing to spend hundreds of hours perfecting something that others think is insignificant that makes someone a winner.

Everyone remembers the 30 footer to win a basketball game, or the hail Mary in the last three seconds. Those things are exciting, but are the exception. Most of the time you win because you have a game plan and you stick to it. We tend to remember the spectacular plays but remember, someone, somewhere, spent many hours working to bring that one play to pass.

Straight is better than long. Me and one of my golf buddies got paired up with an older couple at a small nine hole course in Florida. It was very crowded and we just wanted to get on the course. I only got my driver out of my bag on that little course once that day. It was a short and straight course. Power didn’t matter, skill mattered.

The husband was a thin feeble guy who had worked construction his whole life and you could tell his body had taken the toll. He was around 80 years old. His wife was a short little lady of about 72 years.

I thought, gosh, these guys aren’t going to be able to stay with us. This is going to be interesting. The fact is, we couldn’t stay with them. They both hit the ball very straight and they both knew the nuances of the course and totally kicked our butts. It was embarrassing.

The point is, consistent, steady play wins. A consistent steady life is a key to success.