Game of golf a lot like life; often fun but not always fair

I spent Father’s Day on the couch watching the U.S. Open and loving every minute of it. My sole regret was that my father was not there to enjoy the finish with me.

Some people feel sorry for Dustin Johnson, the runner-up, for three-putting the final hole and losing his golden opportunity for victory. I don’t. I just cherish the exciting effort. I find it hard to feel all that sorry for him since he is making a fortune playing the game he loves; he is married to one of the most beautiful women in the world; and his father-in-law is a living legend.

And for those who claim Johnson “choked,” I would bet good money most of them would have three-putted in that same situation. Even the pros are not as good at putting as they think they are.

A-one year study of level six-foot putts on the PGA Tour proved that point. Pros estimated they sank from 65 percent to 90 percent of such putts when, in reality, the average was only 54 percent.

I find that golf can serve as a metaphor for life, albeit an imperfect metaphor.

(There are, I think, no perfect metaphors, but some are darn good, don’t you think?)

A game of golf is a journey just as life is a journey. We step up to the first tee with youthful optimism and a bit of nervousness despite the fact that golf, like life, cannot be beaten. In both, we seek perfection but never find it. We can no more perfect a constant perfect swing than we can be perfect at work, perfect in our marriage, perfect in our role as parents.

We struggle to do our best; we find pleasure, and we suffer along the way. There is simply and surely no perfection in either endeavor.

We are here to do our best on our journey even though we know we will have our failures.

The same is true of a round of golf. The great Ben Hogan once said that in a typical round of golf, he might hit six good shots. The key, he believed, was to minimize the bad shots and maximize the mediocre ones.

Isn’t that true of life as well? Try as we may, we are going to make a hell of a lot of mistakes in life. One of the keys to life, as it certainly is in golf, is to put the last bad shot out of the way and immediately concentrate on the next one.

Having bogeyed a hole (or triple-bogeyed as I too often have done), we step up to the next tee with the determination to make up for it on the next hole.

Golf is no more fair than life. A good shot can be spoiled by a nasty bounce. The same is true in life; bad things happen to good people.

As some golfers are born with more innate talents than others, many are born with fewer opportunities and skills in the game of life. Yet whether we are at the top of the game or merely amateurs, we compete; it is simply what we do.

As in golf, life does not have to be mastered to enjoy it. In fact, mastering either endeavor is not possible. Enjoying either endeavor, on the other hand, is possible. We simply must find joy in the journey.

Listening to others comment on the U.S. Open reminded me that not everyone accepts that theory.

Many complained about the course. If you have seen pictures of Chambers Bay before the Open, you know it is a fascinating and beautiful course. Each year, the USGA turns into Mr. Hyde when setting up for the Open. The USGA realizes the Open is meant to be a difficult test of the best in the world.

Listening to professional golfers complain about the course irritated me. They forgot that it is the same course for everyone, and that crap happens to us all. It reminded me that as a white, middle-class American male, I have very little right to complain about anything. We have it greater than 98 percent of the world’s population.

We only need to enjoy our journey, just as I enjoyed watching the world’s best golfers tackle the difficult journey that was the U.S. Open.

The finish was oh-so-memorable. One last note: While I missed my dad on Father’s Day, I can say I am pleased I was part of his journey.

Michael Adkins is the former chairman of the Hancock County Democratic Party. He lives in Greenfield.