The Rude Reality…..A+B (still) = C

I love the piece of coastal geography shown below.  Displayed is the entire breadth of two of my favorite golf courses in the entire world…


        …Torrey Pines Golf Course  (North and South) located on the cliffs of La Jolla in southern California.

Golf is a wonderful game, especially when played on a venue as stunning as Torrey Pines. I have held for years that a golf course is one of the most beautiful cooperative efforts between God and man.  God gave us the topography, and man, through his God given genius and creativity, has built into that topography literally thousands of golf courses across the world. However, while beauty is a marvelous contributor to the joy of the game, it is not the primary reason I have continued to play the game for lo these many years.

The reason I continue to play and enjoy golf, to this day, is because, to me, it is a marvelous metaphor of life from which I continue to derive many of life’s lessons. Golf and Life are both contemplative sports (i.e. think first and then act endeavors).  They both require, a fully engaged mind and that I pay attention to the basic realities of life.  One of those baseline realities is that:


Attitudes + Behaviors yield Consequences…ALWAYS!

I find it sobering to note that my attitude—just like my golf swing—is completely my choice and responsibility (one of those base realities).  No one can establish my attitude for me, just as no one can execute my golf swing for me.  My chosen attitude then drives my behaviors which, in turn yield the consequences I get to enjoy, or endure, as the case may be.  Every shot in Golf and in Life has its consequences.

A painful example of this phenomena came during the final round of the 1975  Andy Williams-San Diego Open Invitational. On the 72nd and finishing hole on Torrey Pines South Course, Australian golfer Bruce Devlin hit his second shot into the water in front of the green. He had a choice of taking relief, at the cost of a one stroke penalty and hitting his fourth shot from a dry position or, hitting the ball from where it lay, half submerged in the front edge of the water of the hazard, with no penalty.

Devlin pondered the situation and chose to avoid the penalty and hit his third shot from the water.  Unfortunately his choice proved to be a miscalculation of his abilities at the moment and he left his third shot in the water…and his fourth…and his fifth…and his sixth…and his seventh…and his eighth finally carding a 10 on the last hole of his tournament.

As if it weren’t painful enough that he played himself out of the winners circle, the following, year someone with an impish sense of humor placed a brass plaque adjacent to the water hazard reading…”Devlin’s Billabong” (Billabong is an Australian term for a small lake.)   Although the plaque was removed some time later, the water hazard is still known some 42 years later as…Devlin’s Billabong. The lesson for me, unfortunately at Mr. Devlin’s expense, is that sometimes small miscalculations can generate enduring consequences.

Steven Covey says, in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,(*) “…between stimulus and response I have the opportunity to choose…”  It is this opportunity to choose, instead of simply react that provides the challenge I so enjoy, both in Golf and in Life.  In both arenas I have the opportunity to apply reason prior to execution. or I can proceed without thought.  Each are choices regarding the same situation but driven by different attitudes.

This kind of thinking is a rude “wake up call” to me. It raises the question “…am I as careful and thoughtful in how I approach the game of life as I am in how I approach my golf game?” Just as I try to think first, assess the situation, and do my “due diligence” prior to each shot, do I have a similar approach to Life?

Am I a “gunslinger’—take the risk regardless of the cost or advisability… or a “make my own rules, your rules don’t apply to me” kind of guy?  Am I risk averse, “tied to the alter of security”—and as a result condemned to a mundane life devoid of excitement?  Do I present a “why plan/practice, let’s just do it” persona?  This List of attitudes or stances in life could go on indefinitely.

The question I get to work through, as do you, is “…What attitudes do I need to amend, change or embrace to enjoy the game of life in a more loving, productive, God honoring way?

We get to decide…you for you and me for me.  Some of the decisions we make will have a short-term significance while others will have a more lasting effect and still others will have eternal consequences.

The good news for me is that I know my Maker promises to be available to help me make wise decisions for each of the decisions I face.

P.S.  Now that you have finished reading this piece, give yourself a quick attitude check regarding your thoughts on its content.  What you find will be advisory as to whether you will rise to the challenge to do your own soul searching. Remember:

                                                      Attitudes drive Behaviors


*Steven R. Covey, Seven habits of Highly Effective People, (New York: Simon Schuster, 1989)


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