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When Keith Gockenbach went on his quest to join the Champions Golf Tour, he knew it would teach him about golf. What he didn’t know is that it would teach him more about life.
“Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a pro golfer,” said Gockenbach, who retired from a successful career as a chemical engineer to take his shot at joining the senior tour. “When I finally got to a point in my life when I could take my shot, I did. What I didn’t realize is that I learned a lot more about living life than I did about golf.”
Gockenbach chronicled his life lessons, with a side order of war stories from competing in tournament qualifiers, Senior Majors, and Q-Schools, in his book Inside, Outside and On The Ropes (insidetheropesgolf.com). In it, he ends each chapter with a lesson about life, a lesson about golf, or a combination of the two. His tips on how to play life “from the pro tees” include:
* If you don’t enter, you can’t win – Make the extra sales call at that plant you’ve driven by a dozen times. It’s the one the previous salesman said, “Don’t bother with them; they’ve never ordered a thing.” You might just show up on the day their current supplier stumbles, or the day the purchasing agent gets a memo about a new product that uses your raw material. It can’t be your day if you don’t show up.
* The greatest regrets in life are for things you didn’t do, not the things you did and did poorly – I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but in my experience, people regret stopping after only a few piano lessons a lot more than spending two years on the lessons and never becoming very good. I know it’s true for me. I quit piano lessons at age 13 after only three visits to the local teacher. I quit so early I can’t even remember her name. And I’ve regretted it every time I see someone who can play the piano competently.
* Every stroke counts – I know from playing in the qualifiers that one shot here or there can make the difference between qualifying and going home empty. A round of golf takes four-and-a-half hours on a good day. A good attitude and focus for each and every shot takes less than a minute each. Each of those (hopefully less than 70!) events is equally important. Life works the same way. Every interaction in life deserves a positive approach and relaxed focus. It’s a good habit to develop.
Published: October 27, 2011 – Volume 10 – Issue 28