“Forget your opponents; always play against par.”-Sam Snead
There is no other game like golf, no game where you compete directly with the golf course, rather than against an opponent. It’s the only game where our greatest competitors are external factors such as wind, rain and grass conditions. In tennis, you play against your opponent(s) and the player who scores more points win. In soccer, you play against the opposing team and the team that scores the most goals win. In golf, you play against par and the player that conquers par the greatest wins among the other players trying to conquer par. Every player is on their own path, trying to conquer par and the golf course.
If you think about it, this not dissimilar to life. We are all on our own paths, capitalizing on our strengths and conquering our own weaknesses. We are always working on becoming the best versions of ourselves in all walks of life. Some of us were born with unfair advantages such as great genetics while others were born with slower metabolism. Some were born with the natural ability to be great test takers while some need to put in more effort while studying. Some have 20/20 visions and are handed opportunities such as being an airline pilot, air traffic controller and firefighter that other non-perfect visioned people don’t have the privilege of having. Some of us grew up with the luxury of financial stability while others did not.
The point is that we’re all different, we all grew up different, we all have different strengths and weaknesses, just like in golf. I may have a wider wingspan than the next person, meaning I have the potential to drive the ball longer. Whether I recognize that trait and take advantage of it depends solely on myself and the team I surround myself with. Some may have been born with great touch and the potential for immaculate short game while others have an analytical ability to understand the mechanics of a golf swing. Once we hone in on our strengths, we can really start competing with life, using our strengths and advantages to keep advancing forward. The natural students advance towards professions that require schooling such as being doctors, lawyers and accountants while the business minded people advance towards being entrepreneurs. Along the way, we run into external barriers such as family pressures, dating distractions and financial problems not to mention internal barriers such as negative self talk and insecurities from childhood patterns.
There’s a very interesting dynamic though, both in golf and life that is unlike any other sport. The moment you start to think about your “opponents” and their paths, you begin to suffer consequences. On the golf course, the moment you begin thinking about how your playing partner is -4 on the turn or that he outdrives you by 30 yd, you begin to give up control of your own game. In life, the moment you begin to worry about how fast your colleague is climbing the corporate ladder instead of focusing your energy on putting in your best effort at the office, the more you fall behind. We must redirect our energy at factors within our control instead of those outside our control, such as other’s progression. We can’t control how much money our peers make, but we can control the progression of our own. We can’t control how well our playing partners play but we can control our own game. And it’s only when we each give it all we got, play against par and at the very end, we are placed side by side against our competitors to see who best conquered the golf course/life.
So, in conclusion, compete against par, work with conquering the golf course and may the best man win.