Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Live” from The Masters 2017…(Part 2 – Big Decision) Par 5

I would hazard a guess that many of you who are forty or older, remember—as do I—the voice of legendary radio newscaster Paul Harvey and his booming basso voice coming through the speaker to announce his noonday broadcast with a welcoming “Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey and THIS is ‘the rest of the story’.”  Having listened to Mr. Harvey for many years and getting a feel for the stories he relished to cover…

April 6, 2017 AUGUSTA Dustin Johnson walks off the 1st tee after deciding not to play in the opening round of the 81st Masters tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, Thursday April 6, 2017. Johnson was reportedly injured Wednesday afternoon at his residence. BRANT SANDERLIN / SPECIAL

 

…I am confident he would have been delighted to share “the rest of the story” of “The Dilemma” Dustin Johnson faced and “The Decision” he made regarding his participation in this year’s Masters tournament.

Some time has now passed since Johnson made the big and agonizing decision to withdraw from competition for this year’s Masters. Made in a fairly short, yet orderly manner, it brought to light the tremendous growth and maturity that has accrued in his life and career since his return to playing status in January 2015 following a 6 month self imposed hiatus from golf for “personal reasons.”

Golf and life are reflective sports. I was super-impressed with the patience and thoroughness with which he “reflected” on his options prior to making his decision. Not only was he thorough and patient, he sought help both physical and advisory.  In essence, whether we concede to the term or not, he applied a team approach to dealing with a decision with potentially life altering consequences and as a result came out with a well reasoned decision.

While potentially costly in the short term—remember, the winners share of the purse was just $20,000 short of $2,000,000, and, he was on a roll, having won the last three tournaments he entered—I am confident that his decision—long term focused as it was—will net him significantly greater dividends throughout the rest of his career for his body, his family, and his financial wellbeing.

Way To go Dustin, way to go.

 

Food for thought –

I could not help but take a moment to reflect on another set of questions Johnson’s approach brought “front and center” to my attention—questions I wrestle with when faced with significant (Big) decisions in my life:

  • Do I opt for immediate gratification, regardless of the consequences, or do I keep the bigger picture in mind? What are my priorities?
  • What are the potential impact and consequences of my decision—near and long term?
  • When faced with big decisions do I adopt a team approach in dealing with the situation or do I CHOOSE to go it alone.
  • DO I HAVE A TEAM of trusted advisors to help me make well-advised decisions—including My Maker— or will I HAVE NO CHOICE but to “go it alone”?
  • And finally, if I have a group of trusted advisor’s, do they know who they are and the role they play in my life?

How about you? Do you have answers to these questions? Have you positioned yourself to be Reflective (reasoned) or Responsive (rushed)?

 

Editors thoughts on this blog:

When Suzanne—my wife, partner and editor of each blog I publish—read the above piece her initial response was, “…I hate this piece!” But later, after further reflection on why she experienced her initial reaction, she said, “…I came to the conclusion that my negative response was generated by the let down of NO FAIRYTALE ENDING or BIG HAPPY FINISH.

In essence, what she was not saying, but what I heard her say was, “…I expected some ZING and all I got was a flat, mundane, boringly responsible decision. Perhaps I wanted more ROMANCE or EXCITEMENT from the moment. My mind was shouting—you mean that’s it? Where is the BIG BANG FINISH? After the big build up in your last blog, I expected a big finish in this piece and you (Larry) left me with a deflated balloon. You let me down.”

Her observation was fair and directly on point. Doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason does not guarantee immediate satisfaction!  Just ask Mr. Johnson.  During his post decision press interview Dustin was asked how he felt about his decision. His response was:

“…It sucks, I really wanted to play. I am playing at the peak of my game and this just sucks.”

This episode brought forcefully home to me the reality that from time to time, whether in the dark of night behind closed doors, under the glaring lights of a global press, or anywhere between those extremes, we are all confronted with making Big Decisions which—in the moment—are not necessarily gratifying. We still, of necessity, get to make those “Big Kid” decisions.

In my mind and heart that makes Dustin’s decision even more admirable. He let wisdom prevail in spite of his feelings. That to me is a victory that deserves our applause.

It takes a “big kid” to make “Big Kid Decisions.”  Thanks for providing a great example Dustin.        

“Live” from the Masters 2017… (Part 1 – Big Dilemma…) Par 5

Each year I look forward, with great anticipation and expectations for “The Masters” to be played.  To me, not only is it one of the premier tournaments in golf, it is the undeniable declaration that spring has actually arrived on the course as well as in my heart. Imagine my surprise, last Thursday (April 6th), when I turned on my television, homed in on “Live from The Masters”, to see media representatives from all over the world surrounding Dustin Johnson. And, to make matters even more intriguing, he (Dustin) hadn’t even teed off yet.

April 6, 2017 AUGUSTA Dustin Johnson talks with media after deciding not to play in the opening round of the 81st Masters tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club, Thursday April 6, 2017. Johnson was reportedly injured Wednesday afternoon at his residence. BRANT SANDERLIN / SPECIAL

If you can–put yourself in Dustin’s shoes for a moment.

You have made over 44 million dollars in the past 10 years, dedicating yourself to a profession you truly love.  Roughly one third of that income has come since the start of 2016 and you have already surpassed your average income over the past 10 years in the first 3 months of 2017, with 9 months of earnings potential still left in the year. You are at the pinnacle of your career and ranked the Number 1 golfer in the world. Your career is on an upward trajectory having won the last 3 tournaments you have entered. And you are the odds on favorite to prevail in this week’s tournament–the 2017 Masters.

You want to play and you’ve worked hard for the privilege to play. Having won your first “Major” tournament less than a year ago, the taste of that victory is still sweet in your mouth–a foretaste of how good it will feel to have the “Green (Champions) Jacket” slipped over your shoulders, the second step in your quest to be the fifth player in the history of golf to achieve the “Grand Slam” by winning all four “major” tournaments (The Masters, U.S. Open, The “British” Open – and the PGA Championship).

You tell yourself “…it’s not about the money” but somewhere in the recesses of you mind thoughts percolate regarding winnings, endorsements, appearance monies and other fringe benefits dancing within reach.

In spite of those thoughts you constantly remind yourself of the primary goal— It’s not so much about the money and other accouterments that should hold sway—it’s about “WINNING” on the biggest stage of its kind in the entire world.  You are confident in your skills and your preparation and…

…You know what you need to do right.

All of these thoughts are swimming in your head. But there is also a bit of a cloud of uncertainty on the horizon. Less than twenty-four hours ago you fell down a flight of stairs banging you elbow and sending some significant discomfort into your lower back; such that, with just moments to go before tee off, you sense that your swing will be only seventy percent of what it should be. There is a Ping-Pong match going on in your heart and soul.“…To play or not to play, that is the question.” You take a few more practice swings and still that sharp knife shot of pain in your lower back accompanies each swing.

 It’s a decision potentially worth millions of dollars in the short-term. And, you might be okay in just a couple of days. But, if you are wrong and you further damage your back it could be career shortening or even career ending as you have seen to be the case with Tiger Woods. The financial cost alone could be inestimably high, not to mention the truncation in lifestyle downstream.

You’ve sought the counsel of your swing coach, the encouragement and thoughts of your brother who happens to be your caddie, your doctor and your physical therapist. And now, with just minutes to go before your 2:03 tee time, the tournament officials are asking for your decision. What’s your choice?

Risk it…or…rest it?

–Freeze Frame—

While I was watching this scenario play out on my TV screen, the angst in the air seemed almost palpable. Not too often does one have the machinations of their soul play out so publicly. The question I kept asking myself was, “…Given the situation, what would you do…(Larry)?

To be continued in ”Live from the Masters 2017…(Big
Decision) Par 5   Part 2

“You need to…” (Feedback) Par 4

To be candid, I have no idea as to the content of the conversation going on between Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler at the time this photo was snapped in September at the 2016 Ryder Cup Tournament. It might be advice, encouragement or perhaps consolation. I don’t know.


                                   Photo by: Robert Beck for Sports illustrated 2016 Ryder Cup

I do know, however, what the picture conjures up in my mind and it is not necessarily pretty.

Allow me to set an imaginary stage for the moment. Here is the scenario:

Let’s suppose you and I are fairly new acquaintances. We have a shared interest in golf and having agreed to tee it up at sometime in the future, are in the midst of that round. We are about half way through the front nine just finishing up a hole and I have noticed, during our brief time of playing together that there is a definite flaw in your putting stroke.  So, generous and caring person that I am, I cordially turn to you as we are walking off the green toward the next tee and say “…You are not following through to the cup.”

Now understand, there is no kind of preparation or concern as to whether you would welcome that counsel or not, just the statement “…you are not following through to the cup.”

How do you suppose you will respond? Do you think it will be:

  1. “…Gee thanks, I really appreciate that input.”

Or…

Might you respond on the other end of the continuum:

  1. “…Hey pal, who made you the next Butch Harman? I been watchin’ your game and you are no Dustin Johnson out here. You just pay attention to your own game.”

Or…

In true Larry fashion, the “combo”:

  1. (Under my breath) “…Hey pal, who made you the next Butch Harman? I been watchin’ your game and you are no Dustin Johnson out here. You just pay attention to your own game.”

(Aloud) “…Gee thanks, I really appreciate that input.”

In this scenario I have a 2 out of 3 chance of putting a damper on a budding friendship. Why do that when there is a simple step that can keep you and me on the high ground?

It’s called PERMISSION.

I have learned, through the school of hard knocks, the importance of this little step. Failure to include this step in some of my dealings, over my career, have cost me relationships, sales, harmony in my family and the slamming of the door on my opportunity to share issues near and dear to my soul.

To really take hold of and begin to practice that simple permission step, I had first to embrace the reality that before truly accepting a thought, idea, or, you name it, the individual you are sharing with must trust you. To put it another way, before you will hear me you have to trust me. Once you have a sense you can trust me, you will let your guard down to hear what I have to say.

One of the bridges to trust is PERMISSION.

In our little scenario above a simple permission question might be, “…You look like you’re struggling a bit with your putter, would you mind a suggestion?

The bottom-line for me, whether it be in Golf, in Life, and in the matter of Eternal Life; when wanting to share, I need to…

 

                                        get PERMISSION…before I share!

Why Rules? …Par 5

“One Game…For over 500 years, golf has provided an endless allure for competitive and recreational golfers alike. Its challenge and camaraderie bring out the best in all participants, and create a genuine and lasting pact among those who play. Its mastery is a lifelong pursuit.

One Spirit…Since their beginnings, The R&A and United States Golf Association have shared a singular passion for the game of golf. Their adoption of a single set of Rules established a common code by which all of golf is played worldwide. More than just a Rules book, it helps inform and guide a game that always seeks to challenge and inspire.”

So says the beginning passages of the R&A/USGA Rules of Golf, 33rd Edition, effective January 2016. (1)

                                Medinah #3 Hole 17 Medinah Country Club – Photographer unknown

One of the things I love about the game of golf is that it uses one book of rules to provide unified direction to the sport worldwide for the benefit of all golfers. As one who has had the opportunity to play the game on multiple continents, it is settling to know that, whether the course is measured in yards or meters, or I have trouble understanding the language, I can take comfort in knowing that we are all playing by the same set of rules.

Imagine if we were each allowed to make our own rules for Golf.  If I had my way here is what the rules of golf would say:

Use whatever club you choose.  Follow your ball to wherever it goes and play it from where it comes to rest. Finish with the ball in the cup. Count all your strokes. In all cases do what is fair with your playing partners. Enjoy yourself and leave the hole in good shape for those coming behind you.  L.G.

Brilliant! Sounds fairly simple and reasonable if you ask me.   However, you may not like my rules and prefer to establish your own rules instead.  That also sounds reasonable. But, much as I might like you, I am confident that your rules would not be quite as good nor have the artistic simplicity that mine have. So let’s just go with mine.  Okay?

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?  I mean, we already have a set of rules for golf and a governing body of the game that have been in existence since the 17th century that are recognized to be the standard for the game world wide.  Who would ever be so ignorant as to assume they could or should strike out on their own with their own set of rules?

Well, yours truly, in an obvious state of disequilibrium for nearly two decades of my “adult” life, put forth the preposterous notion that “I make my own rules”-not about Golf but about life itself! As you might imagine, The results—economically, socially and spiritually—were catastrophic, not only for me but those closest to me as well.

As I have become a more seasoned individual—notice I didn’t say older—I have had to come to grips with the fact that “Rules” provide for a common ground in which sanity and order can exist and are generally intended for the common good. Therefore I need to invite more input into my life direction than that which I derive solely on my own. I have found I can easily make a disaster of my life by continuing to live by “Larry’s Rules.”

I believe rules are what give us a road map to peace, satisfaction, and even joy. “Rules” provide the conduit for community. That’s why all games, including the Game of Life, have rules. Without them we would have hopeless and helpless chaos.

TV golf analysts Peter Kostis is fond of saying at the end of his commentaries “…If you are going to play the game, you have to know the rules.” I have come to believe that his comment holds water, regardless the setting or scenario. We cannot get away from “the rules.” The question is which rules will you and I choose to live by?

Since those sad years of my self-delusion, I have been introduced to, and found great joy and satisfaction in following, a set of rules, set forth by the creator of all things and found  in my favorite book—My Bible. In it are very clear directives and guidance on how to live successful and joy filled lives in community with one another and the one who made us.

The most inspiring and challenging guidance I have received, coming from my Bible, is simple, straightforward and all encompassing. It says:

“‘You must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”  Matt 22:37-40 (NLT)    

Remember Mr Kostis challenge to us all: ”If you are going to play the game you have to know the rules”

The Tee Box of Life is open.  It’s your choice and, it’s always your turn.  Whose rules will you choose to live by?

(1.) The rules of golf are jointly written and administered by the R&A (spun off from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, in Scotland) the governing body of golf worldwide except in the United States and Mexico, which are the responsibility of the United States Golf Association (USGA).

Margin…who needs Margin? Par 5

Team Europe golfer McIlroy

2012 Ryder Cup

 

The Ryder Cup……a Gift of Time Par 4

The Ryder Cup

ryder-cup-2-gettyimages-612061318-e1475445838703

Ryder Cup 2016. Day Three. The United States team with the Ryder Cup after the United States victory in the Ryder Cup tournament at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 02, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Ryder Cup 2016. Day Three. The United States team with the Ryder Cup after the United States victory in the Ryder Cup tournament at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 02, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

 

…I love the bi-annual return of the Ryder Cup.

Why?

Because it is, to me, a wonderful example of the application of selflessness—to do something for others that is larger than yourself.

Think of it.

Played every two years since world war two, with only one exception in 2001—due to the tragedy of 9/11–-it has been responsible for a swell of patriotism in the hearts of participating players and spectators alike.

The format goes back to “David and Goliath” times when opposing armies would face off. Then the best soldier/competitor from each side would step forward to represent their forces. The two opposing warriors would fight to the death—winner take all, the losing army becoming slaves to the winning side.

In the case of the Ryder Cup, two continents face off with their best golfers facing one another over a three day period to see who can score the most points, winner take all—no slaves however—just a little 20 inch gold cup to hang on to for the next two years.

While other sports have their “moments in the sun”, the Ryder Cup stands alone in the prevailing conditions set for a player to earn the privilege to be a part of the U.S. Team.  For starters, none of the eventually selected players is financially compensated for participation in this international competition.

They take time out of their regular playing schedule—remember these are professional golfers whose primary source of income is their winnings from competing in PGA/USGA sanctioned tournaments—to lend their skills to the playing for possession of the “Ryder Cup”—a little gold chalice—for the next two years. Participation and the privilege of representing their country is their sole compensation.

So who cares, especially if you are not an avid golfer or follower of the sport?

I do.  I care and I am challenged when I consider the prospect of getting involved in endeavors “bigger than myself.” What is it or are those things that would prompt my contribution of time? How much of a giving spirit do I really have. Do I have to be on some national or international stage to make it “worth my while” to contribute a piece of time?  Or, can I take pleasure in participating in a less spectacular setting like helping out my neighbor next door or the veteran down the street, the food bank in my area or my place of worship? Does it have to be spectacular to be significant or special?

At this point I am reminded of a not so pleasant episode I experienced during my tenure in the U.S. Navy. On this particular day I was summoned to the office of my commanding officer for a visit.  During that time my C.O. pointed out to me that I was not anticipating the needs of my people well and he wanted better performance on my part.

I responded to him, ever so politely and pleadingly, while standing at stiff attention, “Sir, I have several things on my plate and do not have any more time I can dedicate to this particular area.”

At this point he got up from his desk, pipe firmly grasped between his teeth, and walked over to where I was standing to have a closer “eye to eye” conversation with me (i.e. his pipe was about three inches from my nose). Very quietly, but with great intensity, he said “…young man, you have all the time there is, they ain’t makin’ any more, and I want to be a higher priority in the time you have.  Do you understand?

My response, of course, was “Sir, yes Sir!”

So what does that little vignette have to do with the Ryder Cup?

Every time I see someone stepping out and lending someone else some of the only time they have, I am reminded to check my own priorities.  Are my priorities in line with my Makers wishes, or does he want me to be a little less self-focused and a little more others minded.

Jesus admonished us (read: me) to pay attention to the widows, orphans and prisoners. I read that as a directive to me to remember that the time I have been given is not all mine to squander on whatever I like.  Time is the most valuable commodity I have. I am convinced there are some eternal expectations for the stewardship of my time.

This is an area in my life that needs constant monitoring or I get lazy. I’m working on it.  How about You? Are you hogging your time or are you making room for others in your schedule?

 

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-arial-entire-property

        …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:

A+B=C

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)