Not a bad shot (at the PGA Championship, part 2)

(Previously, I wrote about my embarrassing experience at the 93rd PGA Championship last Friday with my son. So as soon as I resumed my role as in-control and well-dressed dad, we made our way throughout the course. This is a post about that experience.)

When you go to a golf tournament, you’re not really going to follow the results. It’s difficult to keep track of all of that. On some holes, you can’t even see what’s going on because the fans are packed in so tight around the greens. You just try to peek through and see who’s actually putting and then listen to the reaction of the crowd to find out if the putt was successful or not. Unless you’re this guy…

He’s using something much like a periscope on a submarine. This way he can see what’s happening on the course no matter who’s standing in front of him. Which is a cool concept, I guess. I just hope this guy doesn’t live in my neighborhood. Too many creepy uses of this instrument to feel safe living near him.

As I was saying, unless you’re submarine guy, you don’t go to follow the results. You go for the experience. It’s not often you have the opportunity to be that close to competition that involves the greatest athletes in the world in their particular sport. And at a golf tournament, you’ve got basically three types of fans.

  1. The sitter. This fan finds a set of bleachers and stays there all day. The benefit is that all of the golfers come to you at some point. They have to. The downside is that you become like the person who tries to describe what an elephant looks like after having only seen one section of his body. You don’t really get a feel for the big picture.
  2. The stalker. This fan fixates and one pro golfer and follows him around all day. The benefit is that you get to have what feels like a personal experience with one of your favorite pro athletes. It’s like you and he are just out for a 4-hour stroll (well, and a few hundred others). The downside is that this level of “devotion,” outside of golf tournaments, is illegal in almost all fifty states.
  3. The stroller. As in, one who strolls (not the baby transport). This fan just wanders the golf course and takes in the sights. They are not focused on seeing one particular golfer, but rather desire to see as much variety as possible. The benefit is that, like the sitter, you get to see a lot of different golfers while getting some exercise at the same time. The downside is that your legs get really tired.
My son and I operated as strollers (not the baby transport). We wandered the golf course checking out as many holes and golfers as we could. Along the way, I made some observations…
  • The “no cell phone use beyond this point” is the most ignored sign in the rather distinguished history of signs. The only one I can think of that even comes close are the “Enter” and “Exit” signs at the local Walmart. Nobody pays attention to those. If people could walk any faster, say even 10 miles an hour faster, the doors at Walmart would be one of the most bloody places in America. At the PGA tournament, there were so many people taking pictures with their cell devices you would have thought the sign read, “please, honor us, and the spirit of golf, by kindly using your cell phone at all times.”
  • People have gadgets that make golf tournament viewing much easier to experience. I’ve already mentioned the guy with the periscope. But I also saw this lady…
She has an umbrella that apparently has a cushion on the handle end so it can double as a seat. At least I hope it has a seat cushion on it.
  • On one hole, I saw a golfer hit a shot out of a deep sand bunker. The ball dropped onto the green and rolled to within about 12 feet of the hole. When it came to a stop, I overheard an older gentleman near me say, “Not a bad shot.” Really? Not a bad shot? Don’t get too effusive with your praise there, sir. We’re only watching one of the best golfers in the world making one of the most difficult golf shots there is.

This little experience made me wonder how often this has happened over the course of history. I bet some amateur artist walked into the Sistine Chapel as Michelangelo was laying upside down working away and said, “not a bad painting.” Or some rookie architect sauntered by Frank Lloyd Wright’s desk as he was laying out Fallingwater and said, “not a bad house design.”

It’s like it doesn’t matter how skilled someone is in their field, somehow in our ego we convince ourselves we can do it just as good or better.

But we probably can’t.

And that’s okay. We all have our own gifts and abilities. And God gave them to us for a reason. There’s no need to begrudge someone else their gifts and abilities. Recognize the beauty in the artist’s work, the skill in the athlete’s game, the cleverness in the author’s writing, and the power in the singer’s performance. But understand that your contribution to the world is significant and needed, too.

Chances are, you mean more to someone than all of the professional artists, athletes, writers, and singers in the world combined.

And that’s not a bad truth. Not a bad truth at all.

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