Like many others this weekend, I spent time watching Tom Watson vie for history at the British Open. A man who has seen much success in the game of golf, but has passed what most would say was his prime, was steadily on the leader’s board. The shocking news Friday that Tiger had missed the cut, but Tom was in the lead. Like realities had crossed paths, time crossed through decades. As I watched this weekend, the thing that left its mark on me most was Tom Watson’s grace and generous smile. Even while everyone was talking history, he was calm and peaceful…even down right serene. He spoke of his three practice rounds and his comfort on the course. Then he would smile.
When the tables changed during the final hole of Sunday’s round and in the playoff, he was still graceful. He watched his opponent take a 4 stroke lead in the playoff holes, but still remained graceful. Anyone who’s golfed knows how hard it is to watch your game fall apart…especially after a great, positive streak. By watching Tom Watson this weekend I am challenged to ask myself – how do I act when my game (not just my golf game, but my life game) seems to be falling apart? Where is my serenity? Where is my gracious smile when people around me act with pettiness or even more difficult, when I am not playing at my best?
Tom Watson has always played this way with grace under pressure and is a gentleman in the sport. I don’t know if I always play that way in my professional life. What is my course of action when the play becomes difficult and I really wish I was somewhere else? Do I become an example of grace and humility or one of anger and frustration? Life is challenging. My life over the last five years has been more stressful and difficult than I ever thought I could play through…dangerous ruffs, bad lies, and sand traps that seem inescapable. I try to keep playing…sometime though – I must admit I do throw my club in anger. Maybe it is harsh words to my children at the end of bad work day…maybe it is scowl on my face to a stranger instead of smile…it manifests in many ways. Most days it is in the unending self punishment for not living up to my own expectations or those expectations I perceive from others.
This weekend I watched a man who modeled behavior I strive for in good situations and stressful situations. I thank him for staying with the game. I thank him for his gracious grin. I hope to start tomorrow with humility and grace remembering the pro I watched this weekend that lived in glory and then watched it slip through his fingers. He seemed to take it all in stride. I hope I can do the same.