Lesson from a Golf Ball

Professional versus Amateur

Play the ball where it lies. Easier said than done.

The Backstory

Well, Spring is trying to come, but Winter is holding on strong. Even still, the color of green is starting to explode in Ohio, as the leaves open, grass gets mowed, and the weeds begin to push their way through the gravel driveway. What this also means is that warm-weather sports are back on!

Even though golf can be played year-round depending on where you are on the planet, the prime-time season is just starting. Golf is an interesting game, because like many other things, it looks so easy to do when you see someone on TV at The Masters go for a shot 120 yards away and get the ball within inches of the hole. Really?! It’s so much harder and frustrating when I try to do that.

What golf comes down to is hitting a small, white ball with a steel rod a few hundred yards into a small hole. Challenging? Yes. Fun? Well, the tee off shot is, at least! While the game has many, many variables that impact performance results, there is no game without… the ball.

The Object

Where the ball lies.

The design of the golf ball is an under-estimated and under-appreciated engineering feat that allows people to hit further and play more accurately, or in my case, accuracy doesn’t matter and I end up in the mulch bed of a landscaped hillside.

You might be thinking, “Would you rather be in a sand trap?” “Yes. Yes I would.” I’d be really lucky to be there!

When it comes to golf, I play once a year, and that’s if I’m lucky. When people ask me, “Do you play golf?,” my response is, “I CAN play golf.” Normally when someone asks that question, they are assuming that when you say, “Yes.,” it means you play regularly or enjoy playing the sport. Don’t get me wrong… I know HOW to play; I like watching the major tournaments; and I am knowledgeable enough to talk the talk; but have you noticed the where the ball is located in the photos I took for this story?

The Difference

Usually photos of golf balls are taken in the nicely manicured fairway grass or neatly placed next to the hole on the green… not here! When I play, the ball rarely finds itself in lying where its supposed to be. I like the play the ENTIRE course. Stopping many places along the way gets me my money’s worth.

An amateur may get flustered, but a professional golfer looks at the situation and figures out what is necessary to get through it or out of it.

If it was me, I’d use my favorite club… the “foot wedge.”

Whether lying good in the fairway or in rough trouble, the professional aims for the hole or sets up their next shot to shoot for the flag. They go for the win. They go directly for the goal. They study the environment they are given — lay of the land, weather, tools, etc. — and then apply their experience to make magic happen. The ball. In the hole. Incredible. [mic drop]

Professionals shoot for the pin; amateurs shoot for the green.

The Lesson

That’s the difference between a professional and an amateur. My goal in golf of aiming for the green is much broader and easier to hit; it’s more of a direction than anything else.

While that’s where I have to start, I eventually have to go the next step and set the next goal… hitting the ball into the hole. Managing layers of achievement. Motivation. Setting tough, but achievable smaller goals that lead toward a more lofty goal will increase the chances of achieving the big, audacious goal.

Wins along the way are necessary; otherwise, we’d all give up before we became professionals at anything.

The Take-aways

  • Be the “professional” of your own life.
  • Break down the big goal and get your direction set.
  • Work the situation you’re in and set up your next shot.
  • No one is born a professional at anything.
  • Write down your bucket list.

I’m sure there are many more lessons that can be derived from the golf ball and probably from many different angles. Think about what the “golf ball” is in your life or career. How you are you going to play the ball?

Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, as the old cliche goes. But when it comes to playing golf and going for the flag, I’d be better off throwing the ball with my arm.

I’m a pro at playing from the rough.

Written by Shaun Holloway.