Putting is a Metaphor for Life
Last Sunday I sat mesmerized as I watched a sporting feat people didn’t think possible. It was absolutely mesmerizing to watch Tiger Woods go into the final round of the Tour Championship with a three-shot lead. When Tiger went to the eighteenth hole with a lead, it was clear that something magic was happening. On his approach shot he put it into the sand trap, but that didn’t matter. As Tiger walked to the green, he could almost have surfed. Because the ocean of fans that fell in behind him on the fairway, it looked like a wave rolling in to the shore. It was the closest thing to a “Rudy” moment I have ever seen in golf.
After back surgeries and problems with self-medication, Tiger hadn’t won a major in over five years. This year the former dominant champion has mounted a steady comeback and placed as high as second, a couple of times, but he has fallen short of the winless drought in major tournaments. His finishes however, actually put him in contention for “The FedEx Cup.” He is the only golfer to win that title twice. The FedEx Cup uses a points system over an entire season to crown the best golfer for that year. Tiger won the first FedEx Cup by a ton in 2007 and he stands as the only golfer to win it twice. On Sunday, if things had shaken out differently among the finishers, Tiger wound have won it a third time. That’s how big of a comeback happened on Sunday. For me, it was a rare Sunday in September that the biggest sporting event wasn’t Football.
…metaphor not only for golf, but for life
During the broadcast, David Feherty (my favorite golf announcer) told a story that served as a metaphor not only for golf, but for life. I try my best do it justice from memory. He repeated a story told a young golfer and Tiger Woods friend, Jason Day. The young golfer is famous among golf enthusiasts for poking fun at the older golf legend. Like the time Day sent Tiger a picture from 2004, teasing him that he was golfing in “MC Hammer pants.” Day says that Tiger usually answers his texts.
Back to Feherty’s story. He said that Day was at Tiger Woods home hitting balls in a virtual driving range that Tiger has in his house. As the story goes, as Tiger sat in a chair, Day was crushing balls with a three wood. After a particularly long drive, Day goaded him and said, “Try to beat that drive, old man.” Tiger pointed across the room and said: “You see that putter over there?” pointing to his famous Titleist Scotty Cameron putter. “I won thirteen majors with that.” Feherty said: “How on earth do you answer that?”
The comment was a teaching moment for Day. There is a saying in golf that you drive for show and putt for dough. Putting is arguably the most important part of a golf game. However, most golfers spend a lot more time on the driving range, rather than on the putting green. Hitting the perfect drive is a feeling that is indescribable, unless you love golf. The next most exhilarating experience is hitting an approach shot from 150 yards out and putting it a foot from the hole. But the payoff is rolling in a ten-foot putt and watching it fall into the hole.
Driving the point home:
Putting is like life. It is attention to the little things that make the difference. Taking time to praise our kids (and grandkids). Telling our wives and husbands how much we care about them. Going to Church, even when we feel bad and finding we are so glad we went. Mowing your neighbors’ yard when they are out of town. These things aren’t drives or even approach shots. They are putts, and if you can putt… well, you are a winner.