Apparently hoop is a common name that a lot of people use for pseudo names and online IDs…who knew..
One of the many topics that comes up during lunch is golf. If you don’t play, as about half of the lunch crew – current and former – don’t, I can’t fault you…George Carlin wondered what pin headed pricks were doing smacking a little white ball around a back yard big enough for a king. Robin Williams has a skit mocking the Scotsmen who came up with the damn game…so like I said, I can’t fault you for not being a fan….I won’t even get into the recent headlines of a golf superstar, that might be another blog saved for another time. But, for those of you who do, and even for those of you that don’t play, there is always something to take away from a sport or activity, depending on whether you count drinking beer while hitting said little white ball a sport or an activity…….right, onto my point.
So I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper,
I grew up on a golf course. Not in the typical way of my house sitting on an edge of a hole of a club, or playing a round or two every day to develop my skill as a scratch golfer. Instead, I grew up caddying at a local private course in the south hills of Pittsburgh. Every summer for eleven years, I carried at least one, more often two bags of golf clubs, golf balls, towels, umbrellas, jackets, water, crackers, and whatever else the golfer thought he might need at any given point during the course of four hours. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of the job. Not only did I get to enjoy the weather, the outdoors, make great money, and get exercise, but I developed life long skills that not only I can use on a golf course, but that I can use in every day experiences throughout life.
I could go on about all of the eccentric people I looped for, or the steady gig I had for over four years with a golfer (and how I knew his game better than he did), or the time I got to caddy for Mario Lemieux. But instead, I’d like to focus on those life lessons that were taught between the shots the golfers were taking. There were qualities taught to me by some of the most successful local people in the area, some famous, some not so famous. Those qualities and lessons include concentration, patience, focus, the ability to be still, quiet, and listen, and the occasional lucky bounce.
Patience defines a golfer. Patience definitely defines a caddy. Patience from the grace of a higher power is granted to caddies who loop for a really poor golfer. The lesson of patience is the most important lesson I’ve learned and been able to take with me into my life and career. Watching a round develop, takes patience. You may run into a poor shot, or a situation where you need to take one shot backward to improve your position. If you aren’t patient and don’t take the time to see beyond the immediate position you’re in, you’re going to become frustrated very easily. You may be stuck behind a tree completely blocking your shot. And if you don’t take the time to evaluate that position, you’re more than likely going to end up in a worse position than you were in by rushing into the shot. This translates perfectly into many situations in our lives. If you can’t be patient enough to see how things are developing, you may very well end up in a worse position than you were in before. One impatient action can drastically affect the next several steps.
Listening may be the next best lesson taken from caddying. Four hours is a typical round of golf, and there is plenty of silence during those four hours. You have to be silent much of the time, because the player needs to concentrate. But between those periods of silence (and cursing), there are so many valuable life experiences discussed amongst the players that it is necessary to be still and absorb what is around you. There is no need to interrupt when someone is talking with you. You may not always agree with exactly what they are saying, but your ability to listen (as well as your tip at the end of the round) says much about your character. Moving beyond the course, listening is a primary factor in our ability to comprehend what is going on around us. I’ve met few people who get to where they are by interrupting constantly.
Finally, the most interesting lesson I’ve taken from caddying is that occasionally, you may get rained on, or have a bad day, but you also get that occasional lucky bounce. Some bounces feel like they have come back and kicked you in the shin, but there are those times where that branch was positioned just right that it took enough speed off of your shot and the ball ended up magically in the hole. We need to be able to appreciate those lucky bounces. They don’t come often, but when they do, enjoy them. Take the time to look around at the beauty you’re surrounded by, both on the course and off and definitely enjoy those lucky bounces that come your way, you may not get another one for awhile.