It was Wednesday evening and our family was at our local pool club. There was anxiety in the air. My son had just finished his final round of golf tryouts for his sophomore year. We all knew the list was about to be released with who made the team.
Rewind a year ago. My son went out for the golf team not knowing much about the game. We played a few times that summer together. It was light and fun. We never kept score. He tried out as a freshman and did not make the team. There were only three kids cut. He was one of them. He wasn’t that upset about it… at least on the surface.
We had a decision to make.
Did he want to try to make the team the following year? His answer was “Okay… I guess.” It’s all good. We are not a highly competitive family. We don’t send our kids to the travel leagues and such. Not knocking those, it’s just not us. As the Fall turned to Winter, we picked up a golf pro for him. It was fun. He hit balls indoors and had regular times with his pro. He was learning.
Covid hit and training changed a bit. We put a putting mat in our basement and he practiced here and there on that during the quarantine stages of Covid. Eventually, it was safe enough to play on the course. We played a few times in the summer. He was meeting weekly with his pro. He was still learning.
The weekend before tryouts, we played the course they were trying out on. It was a fantastic day. He wasn’t nervous at all. I really couldn’t believe how relaxed he was. I am an impatient person on the course. At his age, I literally would have lost composure many times. He didn’t. Some great shots, some good, some bad. He’s not the best player by far… but his attitude and demeanor on the course was top notch.
At the end of the round, we calculated scores. Not bad, not great. We would see how try-outs go.
During the three day tryout, my son shot his average on 9 holes. It was higher than most kids trying out. He beat his average one day, tied it one and went over it on the third. All good. He is right where HE should be at the time. The third round ended and we traveled to the pool.
Wednesday evening, his name was not on the list.
He didn’t make the team. I think deep down, he knew it would be tough for him to make it with his scores. When you actually see that you didn’t, it stings regardless. We left him alone that evening to be with his thoughts. We let him know we were proud of him and we loved him no matter what. We let him know he didn’t fail, he learned something. He traveled to his room to get online and play video games into the wee hours of the morning with his two best friends.
The next day I asked how he felt about it. He was indifferent. He kind of sheepishly looked at me like he was upset. He is like me and would never show it. Too much pride I guess. I let him know that I saw great improvement with his game. He understood it more. I reminded him that his attitude on the course was great. I let him know to take that attitude into life. You will have great shots, good shots, and horrible shots. You just have to focus on the next shot and learn from the last one.
There were kids who made the team based on pure talent. There were some great athletes who could pick up clubs and score great without much effort. My son is not one of those on the golf course. There were some who worked harder at practicing. He learned that life is not fair. He learned that some people have to work harder for things than others. He learned these lessons are not just in golf but in life.
We often go through life watching and aspiring to be the ones who get the prize. We often sympathize with those who didn’t make their goal. We feel bad or sorry for them.
Don’t feel sorry for them.
The lessons learned in these moments are very powerful. The lessons will stick with them for their lives. Put those lessons with a mentor, parent, coach, and/or friend and you have a major win. Failure is the mighty teacher.
As I write this, my 15 year old son who loves to sleep in is on the golf course with his pro. It is 8 am on a Saturday. We paid the pro through the month and my son got out of bed on his own and got ready to go. Never complained. I made him breakfast and off we went.
As I dropped off my son at golf this morning, I let him know I am looking forward to playing golf with him again soon.
He looked at me with a smile and said “Me too dad.”
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