Thursday, November 05, 2009

How Do You Keep Score?

Jerry and I have been playing golf together for about ten years. Most Wednesday mornings you can find us out there like most other golfers, doing damage to the fairways and rough, complaining about greens that are too hard or too soft, and debating the merits of chipping with a seven iron vs. a four iron. But there's one thing that's unusual about our game: we don't keep score. Oh, we recognize it when we get a par or a birdie, but we never put a number on the scorecard unless we happen to be playing in a tournament. Otherwise, we're there to enjoy the open air, the exercise, and the opportunity to talk with each other. Good shots are just a bonus, while bad shots are quickly forgotten.

The fellowship has been good for both of us. We've supported each other through the death of our respective first wives, rejoiced with each other when God blessed each of us a second time with the love of a wonderful woman, talked about the myriad of problems we've encountered that week. We play as a two-some, so we can speak openly. Sometimes one of us will say, "I really needed this today." It's good therapy.

Some people would say that it's too bad that we don't keep score. Personally, I think we keep score--just not the way these people think of it. I've played golf with some folks who take the game very seriously. They turn the air blue after a bad shot. They concentrate so hard I can just picture the acid burning their ulcer a bit deeper. I have seen a player in my foursome throw not one but two clubs into a water hazard. That's not why I play golf. Sure, I want to make good shots, but I want to have fun as well. That's how I keep score.

How do you live life? Are you so goal-oriented that you'll cheat a little, lie a bit, fudge just a fraction to get ahead? Is your success tied to the balance in your bank account or the credit limit on that piece of plastic you're carrying? If so, maybe you're keeping score the wrong way.

If a day rarely passes without your doing some random act of kindness, that's better than a string of pars. If you're able to go out of your way to help someone else, that's more desirable than a birdie. And if, at the end of the day, you can say, "I did the best I could," I'd say you'd scored pretty well. Wouldn't you?

6 comments:

yarnbuck said...

Good reminder, Richard. In business and even in coaching high school football, I feel like the scoreboard is in perspective . . . after 52 birthdays.

Sadly, it's writing that leaks out of what God would likey have me surrender.

Oh well, like the children's song says, "He's still working on me."

Catherine West said...

Yes. Awesome thoughts and I agree wholeheartedly. Just don't let any of those 'real' golfers read this or you might be banned from the course!

Richard Mabry said...

Buck, I agree that it takes age to give perspective. Too bad, because I sure could have used some of that wisdom many years ago.

Catherine, I expect to have a USGA official show up at my door any day and demand that I surrender my clubs. Meanwhile, I plan to continue to enjoy the way we play.

And Jerry (whose comment came privately), thanks for your friendship and for teaching me how to use golf as therapy and as a paradigm for life. You're the one who told me, "You can tell a lot about a man by whether he fills in his divots."

yarnbuck said...

Richard - not to belabor, but metaphorical golf is all I dare tee-up. In that light, I couldn't help but laugh at the USGA official picture. If they were Fairway Pharisees of old, I have enough reverent latatude to imagine them being told, "The score card for the Player, not the Player for the score card."

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Richard,

I like your gadget for an email mailing list. Where did you get it? Do you have a link that you could email me? And then another related question: what kind of new of newletter are you planning to send out and how often? I heard Colleen Coble at ACFW talk about this very thing and how useful it's been for her. But I'm still learning the ropes!

yarnbuck said...

Richard - not to belabor, but metaphorical golf is all I dare tee-up. In that light, I couldn't help but laugh at the USGA official picture. If they were Fairway Pharisees of old, I have enough reverent latatude to imagine them being told, "The score card for the Player, not the Player for the score card."