Golf is about a lot of things – beauty, honesty, resilience, perseverance. But I think I’ve discovered the three words that sum it up best.
Do it right.
I came to realize this recently in a seemingly innocuous way. I was teaching someone how to play, and I decided it was time to teach them the proper grip.
I had danced around it to that point. I wanted them to get used to just making contact with whatever grip they chose. I was more focused on developing their swing and their leg action and their hip turn.
I foolishly thought the correct grip – be it the overlap or interlock – would seem so awkward, it would get in the way of reinforcing those other fundamentals.
But now they had progressed to the point where I didn’t want them to get accustomed to using an incorrect grip. So I carefully placed their hands on the club in the overlap grip, warned them that it might feel weird for a while, and expected some growing pains with it.
First swing … good shot.
Second swing … good shot.
Most swings … good shots.
And then this:
“Hey, why didn’t you tell me about this before?”
But think about how that translates to all aspects of our great game.
When you’re learning how to swing a club and navigate a golf course, you’re simply learning how to do it right.
When you’re learning the rules, you’re learning how to do it right – and then some.
When you’re learning etiquette, it’s about the nuances of doing it right.
When you’re learning how to act with proper decorum out there, you’re getting a reminder to do it right.
When you’re learning to enjoy the experience with your friends, you’re getting schooled in how doing it right makes everyone feel good.
And on and on.
Why is this so important? Simple. It’s what sets golf apart.
No other sport is as focused on doing everything right. Maybe that’s too rigid for some people who want to be different, who want to rebel.
But, to me, it’s what makes golf so comforting. There’s a clear right way and a clear wrong way in virtually every situation, and it comes down to simple choices.
A or B.
No. 1 or No. 2.
Do it right … or not.
Unfortunately, you usually don’t have to look far on most public courses to find someone not doing it right.
On one side you see the guy who plays once a year, has never taken a lesson, and expects to be Brooks Koepka.
Over there you see the knucklehead who has no idea how to mark their ball or avoid other players’ putting lines.
Maybe in your own group you have someone who ignores the rules because they’re just inconvenient.
We all can do something about this. We all can be teachers. We all can be good examples.
We all can get up to date on the rules. (They’ve changed a lot in the last few months.) We all can spread the joy of the game. We all can be responsible for our own actions.
It’s really not hard. It might be as simple as developing a new attitude, a new approach.
It might be as simple as knowing what the right thing to do is.
Think you know it all? Think golf’s rules are made to be broken? Think you’re above it?
Get a grip … and do it right. Someone probably is watching – and learning.