I have always been intrigued by social dynamics and interactions and perhaps that is one of the reasons I enjoy golf. It is a new experience each and every time in observing social behavior and group dynamics, especially when you play outside your regular foursome. There are few settings where you meet 2-3 total strangers, shake hands, exchange first names and then expose them immediately to your short comings in coordination, athletic ability and the emotions that follow the errant tee shot off Number One. In four to five hours you share your history, family life, joys, frustrations, eating/drinking choices, humor, manners and emotional health. By the end of the round you are no longer strangers. You have shared an afternoon and learned a great deal about one another.
My husband and I shared a recent afternoon in Las Vegas at Rio Secco with a nice couple from Seoul South Korea. From the exchange of greetings on the first tee I knew it would be an interesting day of golf and social interactions. They spoke very little English but fluent golf. We found ourselves laughing with one another, cheering for our putts to drop, searching for frequent lost balls and politely remaining quiet after an errant shot. All with little common language that was shared.
A universal golf tradition in a friendly round is to concede your playing partner a putt that is close to the hole. You can often hear “that’s good” between playing partners when a putt is near the hole. There can be a bit of gamesmanship around this tradition when the players know one another well, as each player tries to gain an advantage over the other. And that was evident with our new Korean friends. She was a consistent, steady golfer with a nice smooth swing. Her mannerisms on the first green gave away her competitive nature as she fist pumped after her putt dropped. After two or three holes, her husband had a short 18″ putt, well within his ability to make. My husband jokingly asked, “aren’t you going to give that to him?” She quickly and curtly replied, “no give”. Later in the round when I had a much longer putt she quickly offered, “give”, as she looked at Russell with her sweet, yet demanding, smile. We laughed as she was generous to “give” putts to us but was consistent with her “no give” response to her 71 year old husband.
I was reflecting today on those phrases. Give. No give. I so much want others to give me a putt, a smile, a compliment, forgiveness, grace or the benefit of the doubt. But I am also very quick to ‘no give’ the same to others. How often we hold onto the very thing we so desperately want from others. Is it our competitive nature, our desire to be right, our pride, fear. What is it that keeps us from quickly saying ‘give’. Am I afraid that you will succeed and I won’t? Am I concerned that in you being right, then I must be wrong?
The scriptures say that if you give your life away you will find it. Give. No give. It’s a choice we make each day, multiple times a day. Give. No give. It seems if we give we will actually loose something. Perhaps the chance to beat someone at a game. To win the hole. But in choosing to give, we actually find much more. Joy, happiness, friendship, love, and life itself.
Playing golf again on Saturday. You’ll wish you were in my foursome. My response all day on the green will be … “Give”