My journey in the golf world has been full of ups-and-downs, but it has taught me many things, including perseverance, etiquette, and most of all patience.
At eight-years-old, I was already spending most of my days at the golf range after a long “hard” day of arts and crafts at my
elementary school. While my girlfriends had Barbie-themed sleepovers, play dates and movie nights, I decided to dedicate my time to the sport I love most…golf.
I have to give credit to my father. He would spend hours helping me practice, even if that meant spending extra money for three large buckets at the driving range. Ironically enough, I was never good at sports. Trust me when I say I tried, but it was to no avail. Gymnastics? I have no balance. Soccer? No thanks. Basketball? I’m too short. Golf was the exception.
My high school didn’t offer a girls’ golf team. In fact, I was the only girl to be on the team in the history of my school. I was ecstatic when I passed the tryouts. I thought this would be a great opportunity to show off my skills, but they immediately put me to the sidelines. After badgering my coach to let me compete in a tournament, he finally agreed. But, if I wanted to play, I had to play from the blue tees. It was difficult, but I was able to hold my own. I was determined to prove that I wasn’t just some below-average golfer. It wasn’t easy being the only girl. I felt like I had to stand out in some way to prove that I was good enough to play with the guys. And I did.
When I started my college career I inquired about joining the men’s golf team (again, no women’s golf team was offered). It wasn’t always a smooth ride being a young female golfer. I was told that I would not be allowed to try-out since I was a girl and I wouldn’t be able to “keep up.” This was the turning point in my golf career where I was ready to start speaking my mind. I wanted to stand up for myself and every woman golfer out there that has been denied only because of our gender. For three years I filed against my school because this situation was a clear violation of Title IX. I wasn’t allowed to be on the team, simply because I am a woman. Unfortunately, nothing came of it, but I didn’t let that deter me from playing golf.
I joined a league called the Rhode Island Junior Women’s Golf Association. It was the real deal. Mary-ann, my former coach, taught me valuable life lessons that I carry in my heart and on the golf course to this day. I dedicated the majority of my time playing in weekly tournaments, receiving lessons from professional instructors, and making new friends who shared my passion for golf. My father said to me, “You might have found your sport.” His words turned out to be true (thanks dad!).
Here are some of the important life lessons that I’ve learned through throughout my golf career that every woman golfer should have the opportunity to learn:
This is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned in the years I’ve played golf. It’s all about having respect. By playing this amazing sport you learn how to not only respect yourself, but others and the golf course. For example, replacing your divots, not stepping in someones line, being quiet while someone else is hitting, waiting your turn, fixing your ball marks, not driving the golf cart on the tee boxes and greens is having good etiquette. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a group of golfers shouting, swearing and not taking the game seriously. Having good etiquette on the course will also help you in your daily life and professional career. It’s a great lesson to be learned.
Golf can be a difficult sport that has a tendency to test our patience when something doesn’t go our way. Maybe you’re having an off day and you can’t seem to get your ball on the green, no matter how hard you might try. If you don’t have patience it will make it even more difficult. Golf teaches you to have patience, which is a virtue in life. You can’t score by getting ahead of yourself, you have to be patient and take it one shot at a time. My coach told me “Every shot is a chance to clear your mind and start over. If you change your attitude, you will have more patience with yourself and it will ultimately help you get back on track.” This statement couldn’t be more true.
- Learning to Accept the Uncontrollable
How many times have you encountered situations in golf that make playing not only difficult, but frustrating? Have you ever hit a shot that you felt was so perfect, but the result was awful? Maybe you ended up with a bad kick in the fairway that puts you in the water, or you keep landing in bunkers. It happens! Unfortunately. But one of the things you start to learn is that you must start to accept the things that are out of your control.
- Be Honest
In golf, you are your own rules official. There isn’t someone watching your every shot, besides your playing partners. You learn the rules early on and there’s an expectation to follow them them when you’re playing. If you messed up your first tee shot, don’t say “oh it doesn’t matter let me just re-do it without a penalty.” Rules are there for a reason and in order to be the best, you can’t cheat your way there.
- Problem Solving
Who would’ve thought that problem solving is a skill learned in golf? You might have to manipulate your way around the course on a windy or rainy day. The fairways might be muddy and wet, which pushes you to really think about your shots and setup more than usual. Plotting out your strategies is important and that is one thing that golf has helped me learn that I’ve not only applied on the course, but in my daily life when I’m struggling with work.
Have you learned any life lessons in golf that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know by commenting below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.