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Learning life lessons from golf

  • Published
  • By Tyler Grimes
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
As the son of a professional golfer, I have spent a significant portion of my life on a golf course and throughout that time the game of golf has taught me a number of life lessons I think are worth sharing.

First, golf is all about practice. When you see golfers on television make those incredible shots look easy, it's not because they are all so immensely talented or lucky. It's because they practice day in and day out perfecting their game. Regardless of if you're learning how to hit your five iron or maintaining C-5 Galaxy, in order to be good at anything you have to practice. As Arnold Palmer once said "It's a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get."

Second, being a good golfer requires persistence. Persistence means striving for greatness in the face of adversity. We all have challenges that we must overcome in order to be successful in life and having the determination to win keeps us going after a 12-hour shift on the flightline or the 12th shot that landed in the water again. I think legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus summed it up best when he said, "Resolve never to quit, never to give up, no matter what the situation."

Third, focusing on the present is an important part of golf and life. I have seen some of best players in the world quickly go from first to worst when they let a missed putt on a previous hole ruin the rest of their round. We all do it, we allow an argument with a friend or negative comments from a superior get in the way of our job and the mission at hand. So until they invent a time machine, we must face the fact that we can't change the past and the best way to deal with it is to not let today's responsibilities become tomorrow's regrets. Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer of all time, stated simply, "You've got to stay patient, stay in the moment, keep grinding, you never know what can happen."

Forth, stay positive. It is a simple concept but it can elude us now and again. It's the fodder of any sports highlight reel; a frustrated golfer breaks his seven iron after spending more time in the woods than Frodo Baggins. Airmen, just like golfers, are representatives of their profession and they can't let their emotions get the better of them. There are many techniques we can use to help keep our cool. We can count to 10, do some deep breathing exercises or just close our eyes and envision our own happy place. Hey, it worked for Adam Sandler.

Finally, just enjoy yourself. Golf is a game and games are supposed to be fun. In the game we call life, if we do not take joy in what we are doing then how can we be successful? We can't.

In the high operations tempo of today's Air Force, it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day demands. Sometimes we need to stop and take a moment for ourselves because life moves faster than a SR-71 Blackbird. But don't take my word for it, as Ben Hogan explains, "As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round."

Many people believe golf is only a sport but to me it's something that has helped guide me through the sand traps and par fives of life. I hope that this helps you down the fairway of life too. Bobby Jones, one of the most important figures in the history of golf, had these words of wisdom, "Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball where it lies."