Ever since the age of 5, if not sooner, I was always engaged in indoor exercise– ballet, swimming, gymnastics, aerobics classes, yoga, running on a treadmill, etc. This form of stress-relief worked for me for over four decades until March 2020 when COVID-19 hit, the gyms closed, and I was forced to shift gears fast. Aside from walking 4 miles a day, to positively channel my anger/frustration with our “new norm,” I decided to take up golf, a nice socially distant sport that you can play long into your later years of life. Yet, what started as a lark, soon became much more.

Throughout this pandemic, at least for a few hours, the golf course has offered me a restored sense of normalcy. Surrounded by natural beauty, and friendly people, one can forget for a while that so much has been lost these past few months and instead focus on something positive. Along the way, it’s also reminded me of many life lessons well worth preserving in our memory banks, including the following:

1. Embrace challenges– rather than always stick to the familiar, it’s good to step outside our comfort zone and try something new. No one else expects you to be perfect at first (and neither should you), however, it never hurts to find a good coach to work with you. 

2. Set goals– it’s important to our mental well-being to set goals, even modest short-term ones that give us something to work towards. If we stick with it, we’ll see that practice does pay off, and it’s good to feel a sense of accomplishment and  satisfaction.

3. Conquer fears– life is full of “troubles” not just bunkers, water and junk areas. Just as you can learn how to deal with these difficulties on the course, you can also figure out how to either avoid or manage trouble in life.

4. Think strategically– after you get the lay of the land, with each move you make along the way you need to (1) know the rules, (2) consider how each piece of your equipment performs, (3) assess all the risks and (4) make calculated decisions.

5. Have fun– accept that mistakes will happen, and you will lose some balls, but as long as you have good weather, are in good company and you maintain a good attitude (including an ability to laugh at yourself), it’s all going to be okay.  More importantly, remember the good, forget the bad and celebrate those wins.

At the end of the day, no one else really pays attention to how you play (unless you are a pro).  Everyone is mainly focused on their own game performance. Isn’t the same generally true in life? All anyone else cares about on the course is whether you are punctual, show up prepared and remain polite. If only we could all remember these 3 Ps throughout the rest of the day, imagine how much better our pandemic existence would be!

By Regina A. DeMeo