"Fore" the golf course and life

Sept. 1, 2001
Dr. Gary plays golf about once a week and likes to hit range balls after work to unwind.

by Paul Homoly, DDS

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Midas."
"Midas who?"
"Midas well golf well if you're going to golf at all."

Dr. Gary plays golf about once a week and likes to hit range balls after work to unwind. Jim works part-time in the pro shop. He has a smile painted on his face and a head full of thick, white hair. Jim always has a new joke to tell, and Gary is just a little too impatient to enjoy it.

One day Gary, playing golf by himself, tapped in his double-bogey putt and heard a ball land just in front of the green. Gary looked back down the fairway and saw Jim walking off the tee box with his golf bag on his shoulder. He had driven the ball over 300 yards.

Gary took his time getting to the next tee. He watched Jim pitch his second shot to two feet and tap it in for an easy birdie.

"What's your secret?" Gary asked, as Jim joined him on the next tee. "My secret?" Jim replied. "There are no secrets in golf. Everything anyone does is in plain sight for everyone to see. Smart golf is knowing what to pay attention to."

They played the next hole together. Jim's drive split the fairway. His shot jumped off his driver, rising with a slight draw, and rolled forever. Gary's was left and short.

"Meet me on the green, and if you're interested, I'll tell you what I know about golf," Jim said just after he hit a perfect five wood to 10 feet from the pin.

Three shots later, Gary was on the green. Jim was sitting on a bench under a hundred-year-old oak tree. "So tell me about golf," said Gary as he sat next to Jim.

"Golf is your life in miniature," began Jim. "Just about everything you'll face in your life you'll meet on the golf course. Learning how to golf with ease teaches you how to live with ease. What works on the golf course works in life. Play this game the way you want to live.

"The best thing you can do in life and in golf is to find someone who plays the game the way you want to play it, then learn from him. It beats me why some golfers don't take lessons. They hack around the course all their life, never getting any better, always complaining, and expecting things to improve. Smart golfers spend their time with people who can shape their swings. Dumb golfers spend their time in the woods looking for their ball. Some people live their lives like that.

"I can always tell when someone hates what he does for a living," Jim continued. "He plays alone and doesn't talk to anyone in the pro shop. He comes to the golf course to escape. The best golfers come to the golf course to connect. Surround yourself with people who love golf, and you'll play better. Surround yourself with people who love life, and you'll live better.

"Remember the good shots and forget the bad ones," Jim advised. "Some golfers can't forget the bad ones, because they can't forgive themselves for hitting them. Like life, you've got to forgive yourself for not being perfect. You've got to approach life and golf with the attitude of progress, not perfection." Gary hung on Jim's every word.

"It's easy to have a love/hate relationship with golf," Jim told him. "There are days when the ball jumps off the club face and lands like a butterfly on the green — 'she loves you.' On other days, your tee shots sound like someone banging on a garbage can, your hands feel like concrete, and your putts stay out — 'she loves you not.'

This is golf; this is life. Get good at dealing with it — it's part of the game."

Gary and Jim finished their round together. Jim shot 71, Gary shot 96. Jim went back to the pro shop, and Gary signed up for lessons. How's your game?

Dr. Homoly coaches dental teams to implement reconstructive dentistry through his continuing-education workshops, private consulting, and seminars. This column is an excerpt from his new book, Isn't It Wonderful When Patients Say Yes? — Case Acceptance for Complete Dentistry. Dr. Homoly can be reached at (704) 342-4900 or via email at [email protected] Visit his Web site at www.paulhomoly.com.

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