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This I Believe: I Believe In Golf

Essayist Tyler Olson
Min Xian
Essayist Tyler Olson

Everyone has a hobby — a thing they do for fun to get away from work and the general grind of everyday life. For me, it’s golf. 

There’s something about the feeling of a well-struck 8-iron, about the sound of a ball rattling in the bottom of the cup, about the curve of a good tee-shot through the air, that makes everything else just go away. 

But golf is more than just a sport to me. 

When I was in eighth grade, and just picking up the game, my dad slipped out of work early one day so he could take me out to play nine. On the third hole, I hit my first and to-date-only hole in one. I’ll always remember that not for the shot itself, but for the image of my dad jumping up in elation when he saw the ball go in – blackberry in hand, because he had to answer emails to make it seem like he was still in the office.

Golf taught me to always make time for family.

In tenth grade, I started the high school golf season with the goal of shooting a good enough qualifying score in the district tournament to make it to the state championship. I thought I was playing well enough, but I choked at districts and missed the cut by a mile. I was devastated. But for the next year I practiced almost every day the temperature was above twenty degrees. Before school, after school, when it was so dark the only thing I could do was roll putts in the glow of my phone’s flashlight – it didn’t matter. The next year I made the cut by seven strokes.

Golf taught me hard work pays off.

Just a few months after that I tore the cartilage in my shoulder while weightlifting. The surgery for the tear would have taken half a year to recover from, and I wouldn’t be ready to play for the fall golf season. I skipped the surgery and went through months of physical therapy instead. I couldn’t practice because my shoulder was still too weak, but all I cared about was being able to play at all. My final golf season I couldn’t play nearly as well as before, but I had more fun than ever, because I was more focused on enjoying the time with my teammates than I was on my scores.

Golf taught me the friends you surround yourself with matter more than any things or accomplishments you could ask for.

Golf also has other useful lessons to offer.

When things aren’t going your way, you can’t let your emotions take over or it will only get worse. Just move on to the next shot.

There’s no defense in golf, just like in life. It’s only you and the course, so you can’t blame anyone else if you have a bad day.

I believe no other sport reflects the world so accurately, and no other sport has so much potential to build good people the way golf does.

I believe in golf.   

Tyler Olson is a WPSU intern and Penn State junior.

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