It was a clear, sunny morning in mid-April. The grass was green and the greens were greener. It was that time of year again—the dreaded time when I’m forced to embarrass myself in front of four or five other people for hours on end. The time when I look unathletic, unreliable, and unteachable.
Yes, it was time to play golf.
Most of my golfing experiences take place at charity golf tournaments to which I’m invited to show up, and in some cases, to play 18 holes. I usually choose the former. Not because of time constraints or other obligations so much as fear and inevitable frustration. It’s the fear of being “that guy”—the guy who chucks away at the ground with his eyes closed, hoping desperately to hit something. It’s the frustration of being “that guy” too—when the coaching tips like “keep your eye on the ball” and “don’t try to kill it” seem to go in one ear and out the other.
It doesn’t help when everyone keeps saying, “You’re an athlete, it should be easy for you” or “It’s really not that hard once you get the hang of it.” The worst part is that I usually listen to all the coaching points, but when the time actually comes to move from practice swing to real swing, something else takes over and I just want to hit the ball as hard and as far as I can—you know, to show the other golfers just how good I really am. Obviously, this backfires on me 99.9% of the time, yet I can’t seem to shake the idea that it might finally work.
One day I decided to play a full 18. The first seven holes were the same as usual, with me listening to pointers, demonstrating “beautiful” practice swings, and then missing the ball completely on the actual swing. Frustration levels were high and by the ninth hole I was ready to jet. But I took a moment to reassess the situation and figured, why not practice and hope that by the end it’ll get better? As a matter of fact, it did.
My focus that day was just to make contact. Not to kill it, not to have perfect form—just to make contact. I decided that would be a win for me, no matter where the ball landed. And little by little, swing by swing, I started to get better. I started to see progress. And by the 17th and 18th holes I finally got the hang of it. No longer was I hacking away—I was actually golfing! It was a beautiful feeling.
I share all this with you because it taught me a big lesson. I learned that patience really is a virtue. So many people turn down certain fun, exciting opportunities because of fear and anticipated frustration or embarrassment. For a long time that was me. I was missing out on a lot of good times by opting out of those back nines. I was too busy worrying about the front nine to actually make it to the fun part.
Don’t let that be your story. Don’t let anything or anyone keep you from playing the proverbial back nine in your current situation, whatever it is. See it through. Be patient. It’ll be worth it, I guarantee it.