We've all heard the adage "Golf mirrors Life", but you might be surprised how true that saying really is. Golf is a great game, but it’s a fickle game; and the avid golfer knows all too well that the lessons learned in golf can almost always be applied to successful living, whether it be dealing with adversity, improving abilities, or social interactions. So let's take a look at what some of the world's greatest golfers and scholars (and Chuck Norris) have to say about it. You might be surprised by the similarities.
"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." ~ Bobby Jones
Practice Makes Permanent
Golf: "It's a funny thing. The more I practice, the luckier I get." ~ Gary Player
Take Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule,” for example. Gladwell’s concept is that you need to have practiced, or apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good at something. You have to practice it to perform it well. In golf, the time spent with an instructor, as well as the time spent on the practice range, will pay dividends. This investment applies to our life endeavors as well.
Life: "Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience." ~ Albert Einstein
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Golf: "Uncontrolled emotions can make smart people stupid." ~ Byron Nelson
Lack of emotional control can hurt performance, according to Dr. Jim Taylor of the University of San Francisco, who wrote: "Your emotions are telling you that, deep down, you're not confident in your ability to perform well and achieve your competitive goals. Your confidence will decline and you will have negative thoughts to go along with your negative emotions."
Life: "Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth." ~ Chuck Norris
Optimism Leads to Success
Golf: "It’s often been said that you learn much more from losing than winning. I think, if you’re wise, you learn from both.” - Morgan Wootten
Research shows that athletes who believe that losses and even poor performance during crunch time reflect their lack of ability to succeed have “learned to feel helpless in terms of controlling their performance, and thus their results." On the other hand, optimistic athletes look at negative results as minor setbacks, and as opportunities to learn, refocus and crank up their performance during subsequent events. Accordingly, these players will go into their next event expecting success and will usually improve.
Life: "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." ~ Helen Keller
Live in the Moment
Golf: "The most important shot in golf is the next one." ~ Ben Hogan
It's important to respect and learn from the past. But dwelling on your failures and letting them overtake your thoughts will only distract you from the task at hand. You should always be mindful of your next action, thinking about what comes next, and how to get there.
Life: "Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves." ~ Albert Einstein
Perseverance Is Priceless
Golf: " There is no such thing as natural touch. Touch is something you create by hitting millions of golf balls." ~ Lee Trevino
The game of golf is all about obstacles and finding ways to overcome them. With each obstacle comes risk and reward. Just like in life, some rewards are worth the risk. And just like in life, you have to take your lumps when you make a mistake.
Life: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." ~ Thomas A. Edison
Laughter Is the Best Medicine
Golf: "Why am I using a new putter? Because the old one didn't float too well." ~ Craig Stadler
On the golf course, crazy things inevitably happen, but as mentioned before, anger won't help. So try laughter instead. We can all agree that stress is a bad thing for our golf game, especially for those playing at a championship level. One new study suggests that people who laugh show considerably lower levels of cortisol, which is known as "the stress hormone."
Life: "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special." ~ Jim Valvano
Well, are you convinced that golf lessons equal life lessons? Not everyone would agree. Gardner Dickinson once said: "They say golf is like life, but don't believe them. Golf is more complicated than that."
The great Ben Hogan, who has been known to have a secret or two, perhaps said it best. "As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round."
What lessons has golf taught you that you've been able to carry over into your personal life?