Super Saturday: Life Is Like a Box of Titleists

This post was originally published on November 13, 2011. Today, less than four months after my accident I am golfing!

I like to golf. A lot. My dad’s a golf pro and so I’ve grown up around the game. My dad likes to say that everything in life can be related back to golf. Being a 20-year-old college kid, I like to roll my eyes at that, but the truth is that everything does kind of relate back to golf. Take for instance trying to find a golf ball. Sometimes, you hit an errant shot, and you have to figure out where your ball is. Over the years, I’ve developed a skill that makes me pretty good at finding golf balls. Here are some of my strategies:

1. Observe. This one seems really simple and stupid. It is simple, but it’s not stupid. No one likes watching bad shots. But bad shots are the most important ones to watch. You know where a good shot is going – straight down the middle. A bad shot, though, can go anywhere. But a lot of people will turn away in anger and stop watching. And then they wonder why they can’t find the ball.

Sometimes the time to take the most diligent notes is when we know things are going horribly wrong.

2. Don’t be afraid to dedicate the majority of your time to the place where everyone first looked. People tend to have really good instincts. And so if your playing partner thinks he hit the ball near the 150-yard-marker, but then starts looking near the 100-yard-marker, chances are, the ball is closer to the 150. I always feel like a jerk when I am searching 50 yards further back than the guy who hit the ball. But when I find it, it’s all worth it.

Focus on the basics. Sometimes ideas are abandoned too quickly.

3. Gain perspective. Sometimes the most useful thing is to stop looking for the ball, and climb up on a hill or climb down a hill. Looking at the same area from a new perspective is incredibly helpful. Sometimes the grass is covering the ball from one angle. But it might be completely in sight from another.

Taking a creative break is almost always a good idea.

4. Be confident. The pros almost never lose balls. This is because they have scouts, but those scouts aren’t literally everywhere on the course. They have to watch the ball just like everyone else. Part of the reason the scouts are so successful is because they are closer to the ball’s destination and because finding the ball is their only concern. But the main reason I think scouts are so successful is because they are confident. They have a ten-foot by ten-foot area they think the ball is in. Not a 50-yard by 50-yard area. That makes things really easy.

If you are 90% sure of something, it’s probably best to go against the rest of the group even if it makes you look like a lone ranger.

5. Know when to cut your losses. Knowing when to give up the search is a talent in its own right. Some people stop searching too quickly. They find their original ball after they have already put a new one into play. Others search too long for a ball that is probably in the water. There’s a happy medium. The key is to have a healthy realistic understanding of the world. Not too pessimistic but not overly optimistic either.

You aren’t always going to find what you want, but that’s okay. Take it in stride.

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