Just some thoughts:
This past Tuesday I was a rules official at a qualifying site for the Tennessee State Open golf tournament here in Tennessee. Just associating those two words with me probably makes my good friends at the United States Golf Association, Mr. Meeks, Mr. Hall and Mr. Butz, very uneasy. Easy boys.
There were twenty-six players, most of them professional from around the state trying to qualify for four places into the Championship which will be held at the Spring House Golf Club (Opryland Hotel) in Nashville. Often I assist at such events, but not because I am a good rules person, pray tell. About the only rule I really feel confident in telling someone is “Hey, buddy, count your clubs. More than fourteen, then you’ve got a problem.” I think I am often asked to help more because “I’m available,” not that I am that capable. Sometimes one will reach a point in life where being available will offset their capabilities. You’ll see.
On this day I was assigned to be with two groups of three players. I made my way down the first fairway as my first group went to the tee. The third player in the group was having a problem. His day did not begin well. He began with his tee shot landing into deep trouble. Even the bears don’t go that far into the woods. His second shot went into the creek. The bad news is he ended up taking a thirteen on the first hole. Yes, I said a thirteen.
About four and half hours later, his group finished their round. I watched and waited for him to come out of the scoring tent. When he did, I approached him, “Excuse me, young man,” he was twenty-three- years old, a year younger than my oldest grandchild, “May I speak with you?” He looked at me a bit puzzled but answered, “Yes.” We made our way to my golf cart, and both of us sat down. I asked him a question about his score on the first hole. “May I ask what you had on the first hole?” He smiled rather sheepishly and answered, “A thirteen.” “I thought so,” I said. “If I am correct, after that first hole I believe you played the remaining seventeen holes at one over par, is that correct?” He confirmed it was correct. “That’s pretty strong,” I said.
“Young man I am impressed with you and the way you handled your adversity today. Your day began in the worst way for someone trying to qualify for an event. You did not complain or act out in any manner. In fact, if I had not been observing, no one would not have known your troubles by your attitude and actions.” I went on to tell him that the way he handled that type of adversity on a golf course is a mark of maturity. He thanked me for taking the time to talk with him and the encouragement. He further thanked me for taking my time to help with the event.
This young man was certainly better than a “thirteen on the first hole.” But that is what he played, and he dealt with it in a mature manner. He handled his adversity with class. If he were my son or grandson, I would be very proud of him.
P.S. Oh, the pay for the day as a rules official is a ham and cheese sandwich and some sweet tea.
I was over paid.
April 26, 2012