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Things I learned along the way

  • What it takes to be a great guest. I tried to be as entertaining as I could be and put my hosts’ enjoyment
    of the round ahead of concern for my score and certainly ahead of any frustration I experienced over bad
    shots. Their enjoyment of our round and our time together became more important to me than my score.
    (There was one exception: At Southern Hills I got so upset with one of my fairway bunker shots that I
    slammed my club on the ground, accidentally hitting a sprinkler head and busting the head of my club off
    the shaft.)
  • How to network. My considerable networking skills were sharpened on this quest. I started with a mailing list, sharing stories with those who were interested in my quest and those who had helped me or hosted me. The mailing list turned into an email list as email came into existence and the emails I sent became the basis of this book.
  • Golf is a metaphor for life. The things we live out on the golf course are a microcosm of the things we live out in life.
  • How to see with a photographer’s eyes. When I played Maidstone with Evan Schiller, a golf course photographer, we talked about what he looks for to create good golf course photos and I began to see the golf course from a new perspective.
  • How to read yardage. When I played National Golf Links of America and found out there are no yardage markers on the course, I started learning how to read yardages. I would approach my ball, make my best guess, and then find a yardage marker to confirm (or not) what I estimated. My final drill was to play a round during which I would never look at the yardage, but simply trust my judgment, pull a club, and go for it. It didn’t always go perfectly, but I had enough success that I impressed even myself.
  • How to improve my memory. I began to work on remembering the details of the holes I played at San Francisco Golf Club by reviewing all the previous holes I had played after finishing each hole. For example, on the 6th tee I went over my shots and details of holes 1 through 5. It worked! I remembered the golf course much better than I did courses I had played earlier.
  • How to remember my playing partners’ names and to address them by name. I wrote everyone’s names on my scorecard and referred to it when I forgot. People love it when you remember their names and address them regularly by name.
  • Bad shots should be looked at as “opportunity shots.”  They create an opportunity to make a spectacular recovery.  If you aren’t in trouble in the first place, you don’t have that opportunity.
  • People are thrilled to help. At first I was a bit scared to ask people to help me. But as time went on I found that most people, although certainly not all, were not only willing to help but excited to help me on this quest and others. I learned that it is human nature to want to help other people.