The Head Golf Professional at Birchwood Farms Golf and Country Club, Mr. Cris Cavitt, listens well. Personable, friendly, and outgoing, he probably knows more about the folks around here than Father Joe does. And like the good Padre, he keeps his knowledge to himself.
Also like Father Joe, he listens with sympathy and compassion. It’s all very warm and fuzzy. But doggone it, I don’t need sympathy. I need help. On a nine hole practice round today, I missed five putts from under three feet. Two of them were less than 16 inches.
So I asked Cris to watch me and see what I am doing wrong. He watched and I promptly drained four short putts. With his usual broad smile, Cris shook his head and said, “I can’t help you.”
I have been playing golf for more than three quarters of a century, beginning in 1939 at the Ridgetown Golf and Country Club in Ridgetown, Ontario. It was a flat, hard baked nine holes. At every tee there was a bucket of sand and a bucket of water. You made a little pyramid with wet sand on which to tee up your ball.
You can learn a lot on the links. About competition. About integrity. About fellowship. And disappointment. Indeed, I have learned a great deal about disappointment.
It was, I believe, Saint Augustine who mused, “What I would, I do not, what I would not, I do.” Sounds like golf. It’s a left brain, right brain thing. Tell yourself, “Don’t hit it into the water,” and chances are very good you will hit it into the water. It’s the left brain that thinks in pictures. Mention water, and the picture appears, directing your subconscious to pull the ball into the pond.
I stand over a short putt and hear my brain saying “This is easy. Anybody can knock the ball into the hole from here. I can’t miss it. I won’t miss it.” Then, sure enough, I miss it.
A friend of mine in Florida likes to encourage his team mates on short putts. In a voice both cheerful and positive, he says, “Knock it in the hole.” On one such occasion, I stopped and asked him how many times we had played together. He said, ‘Maybe fifty or sixty.” I said, “Did you know that I never made a putt when you told me to knock it in the hole?”
For those of us who aspire to be golfers, there is only one rule. Persevere. Never give up. Keep on trying. You have never really failed if you are still making the effort.
Cris Cavitt tells me he reads my blogs. He asked me today how many people see them. I honestly don’t know. The people at Constant Contact, who do the mailing, tell me that they send out about 700 notices, only 93% of which actual get delivered. Five hundred don’t bother to look at it, 200 do look at the email, but only about 100 click through to see the blog. How many of those actually read the blog, nobody knows.
I have grandchildren who have a larger audience on Facebook looking at pictures of the pork chops they are eating.
Why do I do it? Just because. Just because I listen to the News. Just because I browse the Internet. Just because I have lived a long time and I think people should know some things I have seen, and done and learned.
I have lived in the most exciting, changing, interesting, perhaps important years in the recorded history of mankind. It should be no surprise that I want to tell what I have seen, share what I have learned.
There is almost nothing in the fabric of society that is not up for grabs in 2015. Indeed, for many people society has no fabric; the do’s and don’ts of the 20th century, if remembered at all, are seen as merely quaint anachronisms that simply don’t fit the electronic age.
Even the meaning of words evolves with every Google search. Frank Sinatra (remember him?) used to sing that love and marriage went together like a horse and carriage. They don’t sing songs like that any more, maybe because nothing rhymes with match dot com.
It is said that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Perhaps that’s the way the world is supposed to work. Keep doing it over and over until we get it right. Sort of like learning to make a short putt. Anyway, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.