• The Curious Golfer

Keep Calm. We'll Carry On Soon Enough.

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

I'm fascinated by the wisdom and perspective of older people. My 87 year old mother, for example, was evacuated from her home during World War II, was abandoned by her parents, did not receive an education, yet holds no grudge for anything she experienced. "Just get on with it" is one of her favorite wise recommendations.

Karl A. Pillemer's book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans is full of advice that sounds like it comes from my mother. Much of this advice focuses on forgiveness, being kind, being community focused, and valuing relationships. When it comes to marriage the advice that many elderly have is to ride the ups and downs. No person, or marriage is perfect they say. But sticking it out is a reward of its own.

So what does this have to do with golf? Right now, in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak I'm glad that I stuck with my tumultuous relationship with golf. As a kid I'm not sure if I loved golf, or was obsessed with it. I knew that my sister and I were good at it and that it could be the ticket for us to leave our industrial English town behind and have a 'better' life. It was and we did.

After retiring from professional golf at the age of 26 I was ready to move on with my life and away from golf. But I couldn't or wouldn't, I'm not sure which. Golf weighed me down and I was frustrated that my identity was so integrally associated with it. I resented golf, didn't like it all that much, but because I didn't know anything else I stayed with it.

Embarking on a PhD was, I thought, a way to navigate out of golf. To show the world that I was more than just a golfer. But a strange thing happened along the way. I realized that golf wasn't just a game of hitting the ball straight. It had nuances that exposed social dynamics, social needs, human behavior, and community. Golf started to become interesting to me again and instead of using my PhD to find another path in life, it brought me full circle back to where I started -- with a love, or obsession, with golf.

Golf is only a game. But now more than ever I see it's bigger role in the life's of my clients. Golf will be a mental distraction from the Coronavirus news. It will be an escape from the house. It will be one of the safest places to regain human interaction. But for now, we have to follow the advice of health professionals and my mother. "Just get on with it." This means breaking up with golf as we know it for a while. But like all relationships worth hanging on to, golf will be there for us all again when we are ready to play.

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