Golf is a Metaphor for Life

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Luke Schlegel
A green on a golf course with a small pond and row of trees behind.

I think golf as a sport can be described in many words, but for the people who have played it one word comes to mind, “frustrating.” Seldomly is a golf shot perfect. You may only come out of a four-hour round of golf with one shot you deem perfect. And that’s what’s so frustrating about it.

Golf is a game of ups and downs, and consistency is a major part of scoring well. For anyone unfamiliar with golf, the point of the game is to try to get a tiny white ball in a hole hundreds of yards away. Players have to achieve this goal in the designated amount of hits. In golf terms, this is known as “par” which is equivalent to three, four, or five hits per hole depending on the distance. You have to stay perfectly consistent if you want to put up a good score. Even the best players in the world can't achieve this level of perfection. What makes great players is their ability to mitigate mistakes. They mess up just like average golfers but it's how they respond to bad shots that makes them truly amazing.

The hard part about golf is the repetition of disappointment as you aim to get as close to the perfect score as possible but never succeed. That's why I believe people keep coming back to this game to always try to improve. This is the same way I see life. We as humans will never be perfect and self-improvement is hard work, but there is joy in making yourself better every day.

Golf at its purest is not only a physical game but also a mental game. In golf, one bad shot can easily lead you to a downward spiral and throw you off your game. You have to focus on one shot at a time. As a college student I struggle with falling short in many aspects of my life. Many assignments or tests I come away from saying to myself “I could do better.” College is difficult and if you internalize your failures, you will never be able to make it. You have to learn from your mistakes and improve in order to successfully get through college.

Like golf, life will have a lot of disappointing moments but it's how you respond to those bad shots that reveal who you are. I could wallow in my failures, or I could pick myself and try harder for the next test or assignment. Do you give up or keep taking swings? And that’s why I think golf is such a good metaphor for life.

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