“One of the most fascinating things about golf is how it reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you score, the next day you have to go back to the first tee, begin all over again and make something of yourself.” – Peter Jacobsen
As I look back at all these years since I started playing, I am filled with mixed emotions. I have had the most fascinating journey to say the least. I have experienced the highest of highs, but also the lowest of lows.
At a very young age, I started watching a few tournaments on television. I thought you were the most boring sport ever invented. Did you even classify as a valid sport? Hardly, in my initial opinion. Never have I been proven so wrong.
Within my first few outings to the local golf club, I was mesmerized by the deceptively simple, yet deep challenges you posed. Challenges that are easy to miss by anyone who doesn’t give you a try themselves.
My love for the game promoted me to start playing competitively. I thought that meant devoting a part of my life to becoming a better golfer with each passing day. What actually ended up happening instead was that, I started devoting a part of my life to becoming a better human being.
Unlike in other sports, there are no umpires watching your every move or counting your score. Only referees to guide you with the rules, should you have a doubt. Thus, the first thing you taught me was honesty and being true to myself.
Hitting a stationary white ball towards a target, while controlling the distance and direction requires as much technical ability as any other specialist profession. Being the most technical sport that I have ever played, I set out trying to achieve the perfect swing. You eventually taught me that chasing perfection is not the ultimate goal in life. Perfection can be used as a motivator, but in the end what counts is being effective and getting the job done, while adding your own flair to it.
All the times that I have played well beyond my expectations, just like every other golfer, I felt I could conquer the world, only to be brought right back to reality. Seldom do you allow anyone to get carried away. You are a great leveller, my friend. Probably the greatest I will ever know.
Each time I have played below my abilities or fallen, you have taught me how to get back up on my feet and resume the fight –as they say, the bout is not over till the final bell rings. An attitude I now very proudly carry with me wherever I may go. For you see, a little bit of hope and a whole lot of patience never harmed anyone.
From elation to heartbreak, fear to frustration, anger to nirvana, you have made me experience a plethora of emotions during competitive rounds. Sometimes all, or most of them during the same round! But through this roller-coaster ride, I have learnt to manage my emotions, keenly observing without a reaction, like watching passers-by on a busy street.
Over the years, I have had the good fortune to travel to various parts of India and the rest of the world, and experienced an array of cultures and cuisines. Many of these would be unlikely travel locations, had I not been playing the game. This travel has undoubtedly made me street smart. A quality even the best education cannot pay for.
I have met many warm and kind people along the way. I have also had some unpleasant interactions. But each interaction has given me an insight into the diverse personalities that exist. But what I have learnt is that irrespective of anyone’s intentions, there is an inherent good in every human being.
Of all the lessons I have learnt, by far the most important one is gratitude. It is a blessing to be able to do something that you love. Learning along the way is only an added bonus. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been introduced to you, the greatest game ever played. The closest there is to the game called life.
In conclusion, I would like to quote my favourite verse from the world of poetry, in the words of Rudyard Kipling,
“If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
This article concludes my ongoing column series with Sportskeeda. A big thank you to the entire team at Sportskeeda for providing me an opportunity to express my opinions over the past year. I hope I have put out good content and inspired a few readers too! It has been a great experience, one that I will cherish for a long time to come. You can continue to follow me on my Twitter handle @anishapadukone.