Many moons ago, I had the good fortune of playing a round of golf with PGA pro Mike Reid and his teacher, John Geertsen Jr.
A week ago, like the guy who won the Power Ball lottery twice, I got to play another.
It was a big day for the personal journal.
And I was reminded once again that, in the world of golf, the better a player gets, the more patient and understanding he seems to get with others — even an old duffer like me with more bad habits than a busload of nuns.
Those who don’t believe sports have lessons to teach about life don’t know sports and don’t know life. For, among other things, my round last week was a field day for learning how to live.
The lessons began on the first tee, where Coach Geertsen showed me you have to begin with one or two things that you hold to be unquestionably true. Then you add to those, the way a doctor adds Ace bandages to a limb.
Because I fully trust Mike, and Mike fully trusts John, I accepted what John had to say without wavering.
He showed me the golf swing, at heart, is about two smooth turns and a slight shift of weight. That's it. And I will never sway from that. It has become my mantra.
I remember writing about Ian Frazier, the New Yorker magazine humorist. He said at the time, “I have to begin with something I know is absolutely true. Maybe it’s a story, maybe it’s just a fact. But I always start with one thing that I know for certain.”
He said it gave what he wrote a “core.” It was like navigating by the Polar Star.
In hindsight, that does seem like an excellent way to build a story.
Just as it's an excellent way to build a golf swing.
And, truth to tell, it's an excellent way to build a life.
When what you hold at the center of your life is sturdy and immovable, your life won’t become a willy-nilly affair where each morning you have to start from scratch, where each day you must re-invent the wheel.
I think of the Friends of Bill in Alcoholics Anonymous who start their rehab with one solid assertion: There is something greater than me in the universe.
Thanks to Geertsen Jr., I have now driven an immovable stake into the ground where I can begin to build a better golf swing.
And thanks to dozens — maybe hundreds — of others in my life, I have driven a stake into the ground that keeps me anchored, that keeps me from being "driven with the wind and tossed."