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Five Lessons That Golf Teaches About Life

We love pretentious books about golf and this one's a cracker...

Posted Aug 07, 2009 by Iestyn George

Whether you’re a weekend player or a pro, the game of golf is a beloved pastime for people around the world. But more than just being a fun sport, great for all ages, it has a lot to teach us about life, like the benefits of courtesy, respect, persistence and, perhaps most importantly, the value of taking a mulligan. So next time you step out on the green, consider these life lessons on perseverance and success inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Golf Book.
1. Work with what works for you. One swelteringly hot afternoon, lifelong golfer Louis Walker seemed to have lost his mojo. He played a losing front nine and his emotions were low. But instead of giving up, he made a bold choice: he removed his pants. Realizing his “trousers were too damp from the humidity,” which was ultimately ruining his pivot, he took them off and just kept playing! It is important to follow traditions, but sometimes, like Mr. Walker proved, it’s much more important to let your instincts guide you—or in this case, take off your pants—and make the situation work. (An Iowa Steamer, p.59)
2. Keep on keepin’ on. For many golf aficionados, a good day of play means smooth swings and a low score. But for 16-year-old Kevin Butler, a day of golf meant playing “chip and putt” on the green. Unable to afford a round on the course, he couldn’t play with the rest of his friends most of the time. However, this seemingly tedious period spent playing “chip and putt” allowed Kevin to skillfully beat his friends when he was finally able to play on the real course. Even when life can seem tedious and gets you down from time to time, just remember that perseverance is one thing that always pays off. (Chip and Putt, p.301)
3. Never judge a book by its cover. Steve Eubanks was a little disappointed after he attempted, and failed, to instill in his five sons his passion for golf. Not viewing golf as a legitimate sport, they all played football, basketball, soccer, rugby and tennis, instead. However, Steve was pleasantly surprised when his 6-year-old adopted daughter from China, Liza, begged him to take her to the golf course and quickly developed a love for the game. Steven happily took the role of caddy to his golf-competitor daughter in a junior tournament for 7-and 8-year-olds, and now he has a golf partner for life. Even when things don’t work out the way you planned, sometimes they actually work out even better than you could have hoped. (My Little Girl Golfer, p.187)
4. Savour the moment. Chicago Tribune golf reporter Ed Sherman traveled halfway around the world to cover the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama in Andalucia, Spain. And while spectators were disappointed over the U.S. team’s loss, Ed couldn’t complain—after all, he had just spent the day with Michael Jordan and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who also happened to be in attendance. Even though it was an American upset, the day was nothing short of a victory for Ed. Winning and losing isn’t as important as the friends, connections and memories you make on the journey to the 18th hole. (No Complaints, p.109)
5. Give it a shot. After his divorce, James Swigert found himself without a wife, a house—or even a reason to live. Having never understood why golf was considered a sport, he repeatedly rejected his friends’ invitations to the course, and instead spent his free time alone at the bar. But when his kids bought him 18 holes of golf for his 40th birthday, he reluctantly gave it a shot. James finally found a new passion in golf and still hasn’t let it go. Life is about trying new things and taking chances—so step outside your comfort zone, and you might be pleasantly surprised. Like Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” (No Carts, p.210)
Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Golf Book (Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Max Adler) is published by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC.  For more information, please visit

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