In my short time as a professional golfer, I’ve discovered that waiting is a big part of the job. We wait at airports. We wait on airplanes. We wait during long drives to different sites. We wait to find out our tee times. We wait in hotels until those tee times roll round. We wait on the range until a spot opens up. We wait on the first tee until the clock strikes the exact second to allow us to start our round. We wait on the fairway until the group in front of us clears the green. Once on the green, we wait for our playing partners to putt.
You could say professional golf is a waiting game - a game in which patience is one of the most valuable virtues. During the first event of the year, my patience was tested.
I’ve experienced all of the different clock-ticking moments I’ve listed above. However, during the Florida Natural Charity Classic, I was presented with a new tester that would have me twiddling my thumbs for hours while my index finger repetitively hit the refresh button on the leaderboard. My eyes weren’t fixed on the top. They were glaring right in the middle - at the cut line. When I finished my round, the cut line was one stroke above my two-round total.
However, I was a part of the morning wave. That meant that the players moving onto the weekend would not be confirmed until the final putt dropped in the afternoon. I signed my scorecard just after 11 a.m. The last group of the day didn’t hear their ball circling the cup on the eighteenth hole until 6 p.m. That’s seven hours of anticipation. With the winds picking up in the afternoon, I was pretty certain that scores would increase, and the definitive cutline would fall. I was never too concerned.
As the hours passed, my faith in the whipping wind got weary. With each click of the refresh button, the players moving onto the weekend were those that got around 36 holes in just 147 shots. Unfortunately, it took me 148.
After the first hour of checking the leaderboard, I was draining both the battery on my phone and my mind. I knew nothing would be confirmed until the evening, and there were far better ways to pass the time.
The first thing that came to my mind was to do my stats. Some may think that is stupid, but the fact is it helped me see the bigger picture. For the last hour, I had been kicking myself for bogeying the last hole. In truth, I carded a total of nine bogeys over the course of the two rounds. Any one of those could have tipped the scale and put me on the other side of the dreaded line.
With almost five more hours until I would know any type of answer, my mind drifted from the game of golf to the game of life. So often we get fixed on one moment or one decision. In these times, we get anxious. However, when we can zoom out, we see that life is the accumulation of little moments. When we combine all of our days, that’s what equates to the final score of our lives. At that time, I find it hard to believe that we will be worried whether we finished below or above anyone else. The only metric we will have is inside our hearts. That is where we answer the question: Did I really live my life to the fullest? Did I love like there is no tomorrow but with the faith that there will be?
I’ve realized when we think like that, there is no anxiety, but only peace.
Peace is what I found, when I knew in my heart that I had given my absolute all for those 148 shots. It didn’t matter where that put me on the leaderboard because I could finally understand that over time that will take me exactly where I need to be.
Ironic or not, in that moment of tranquility I received a text from a friend that I’d see the sunrise on the golf course the following morning.
I made the cut.
When I teed it up in the final round, I promised myself I wouldn’t take this day for granted. I would remain grateful for the competitive environment and cherish the time I had with my mom caddying. It was a fulfilling day because I truly enjoyed the game, the weather, and the good company I was able to share all of it with.
I’d go on to shoot three-under in the final round - my lowest score of the tournament. I was proud of it, but it paled in comparison to the joy I felt in all the moments that totaled that score.
So here’s to not waiting, worrying, or wasting our time. I think that only leads to a wearisome life. Instead, let's learn, laugh, and love. I think that’s what they call living.