Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Agony and The Ecstasy: Humor in Golf

Not many teachers will say what I am about to admit: I really like teaching Sophomores. Watching what went down at the Par-3 championship at Augusta National during Masters Week 2018 has revealed to me why.
Sophomores or 10th graders can be tricky. Ever known as the "wise fool," they are the middle child of secondary education. Too often Sophs feel as though they have been forgotten, or overlooked in the high school mix. The truth of the matter is their lack of maturity combined with their degree of self-absorption often gets in the way of just about everything: teaching, coaching, learning and more (does that sound too harsh? please visit!). However, the good news is that Sophomores are an acquired taste—one I have come to appreciate and cherish. 

How did this happen? And why? We share the same sense of humor. Yes, ma'am. I laugh at the same things that a 10th grader does. I am no better, no worse than the fifteen and sixteen-year-olds with whom I spend September through May. This fear? realization? insight about my lack of maturity came as I watched the professional golfer Tony Finau hit a hole in one, only have hit feat end in a sobering fashion as he contorted his ankle while running to the green. That's right, Finau, who is technically a pro-athlete, lept and ran toward the green—across a stunningly beautiful fairway of lush green grass. No rocks, no trail ledge, no moving parts not even a linebacker or free safety in sight. And what happened? The 34th ranked player in the world fell and hurt himself. Watch the video. I did. I laughed. I laughed a lot...and out loud...and made others watch it. I thought it was so funny. I should have been concerned about him. Nope, not me. I thought to myself: "Oh me, oh life: The ecstasy and the agony."
 Life is...well sometimes you just have to laugh.

What happened to Finau is a simple reflection of the fact that we are human beings. Our humanity means that we do great things—like that golf shot and things that well, aren't so great—we trip for no reason. And, I believe golf is the perfect paradigm to display this truth.

As a golfer, I know how seriously we can take the game. The mental demands can cloud and clog our vision. I find myself using the word "blowhard" quit often. It is very to forget it is "just a game." I realize for Tony Finau and many other men and women, it's not a game—it's their profession—but they too are often the first to admit how lucky they are to do what they do for a living. And, I'd like to add in whatever we do, I believe it's important to keep one's sense of humor about it.

Golfers are notorious for having some of the worst high-five exchanges in all of sports. I guess one's ability to drive a 1.68" in diameter 300 feel down the fairway doesn't always translate to simple coordination, hops or connection. Perhaps this is poetic justice because they get to do what they do on acres of land surrounded by azaleas on what was once a nursery or beside the Pacific Ocean as the waves crash upon Pebble Beach. The agony and the ecstasy make for a game women and men can play for a lifetime. The agony and the ecstasy will undoubtedly characterize the final round of the 2018 Masters as another golfer seeks the green jacket. I guess there's nothing funny about that.

NB: the beauty of teaching Sophomores is that if I showed them ESPN's video, I would 1). admit I have never had a hole-in-one, so props 2). also admit that I'm fairly convinced when/if I have a hole-in-one, I could see something like this happening to me. and 3) if it did, they better not laugh at me ;-)

Photo Credits
Tony Finau celebrates
Tiger Missing His High Five

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