Tuesday, February 27, 2024

MasterClass on Hope and a Hole-in-One

My friend, Missy received a year-long subscription to MasterClass as a gift from her neighbor. What a wonderful, ingenious present. Launched in May 2015, MasterClass is an online learning platform that streams lessons delivered by recognized masters of their craft. It is proud of profess "Our instructors are the best in the world." Check out the list of teachers; MasterClass tells the truth. 

Missy told me about George W. Bush's class on "Authentic Leadership." A long time fan of 43, I leaned in and watched the trailer. I laughed so hard and was so impressed by W's affect, I signed up for the 30-day trial.  I was genuinely interested to hear what he would have to say about making tough decisions, building a team, public service, personal diplomacy and his latest passion: art. I had no idea that President Bush's MasterClass would relate to golf and the feat of a faithful friend. I'm glad it did. Here is the story.

I don't have an official leadership or title at work. For example, I'm not a school administrator nor do I have any aspirations to work as an athletic director. Heck, I'm not even sure I will work as a head coach again. This might explain why my mom asked me why I enrolled in this particular class. I told her that I think we all benefit from learning more about leadership. I figured the other topics could speak to me and be of some benefit. It was...it is. 

I loved hearing W's insights on leading the country and a company—the Texas Rangers. As much as I kept thinking of how the course connects to different aspects of my own life, I couldn't help but think of my friend Malia and how these topics would be of interest to her. Why? In January 2024, Malia was named president of the Olympic Club—a private athletic and social club in San Francisco, CA. She is the third female president in the club's 164 years of history.

In my 10+ years as a member, I have served on three different club committees. I appreciate learning from and witnessing multiple styles of leadership among the committee members and chairs who seek to make the club even better. Full disclosure, Malia happens to be a good friend, and one of the reasons our for our friendship is not only golf but our shared interest in club governance. In committee roles, I have been privy to Malia's due diligence toward all matters that pertain to the club. She works tirelessly toward clear and consistent communication between staff and members. She is gracious and respectful, smart and visionary. She will remember your name and your story. She smiles and says hello. She is a lot of fun. In short the club is in very good hands. 

As written in The Olympian Magazine, Malia said she grew up in an athletic family. She added, "I'm the weakest player of the group. So everyone wants to partner with me because of my strokes." All joking aside, like her parents, Malia has hit a hole-in-one. That is until Sunday February 25, 2024 when she hit her second ace. 

Standing in the tee box on the seventh hole of the Ocean course, she didn't think she hit her ball right. Regardless, we followed the path of the ball. I saw it bounce on the right side of the fairway just short of the green. It started rolling and didn't stop until it found a home in the cup. One of the women in our foursome said "I think it went it." The other woman agreed. We told Malia to use her rangefinder to look on the green for the ball. It was nowhere in plain sight. Ever one to play the odds, I said "Malia, both Brook and Bonnie are pretty sure it went in. I think if  the two of them saw the same thing, we must have something there." She laughed. She smiled and kept (relatively) quiet until we could confirm what we just saw. As we approached the green, we all knew what happened. We were able to capture on video her victory path toward the hole. She reached in and there it was: a hole-in-one. 

I can't tell you what that must feel like as I keep wishing on my birthday for my first one. However, to witness one is exciting enough. #Adrenaline city. And when something this exciting—surprising, joyful and unexpected as a hole-in-one happens to a person, it's just not the event that makes the impression, it's everything else about it, too.

Malia's first concern was to follow the due process that this was a certifiable hole in one. Because Hole 7 is under repair, all tees have been moved to one singular tee box. Ever mindful of protocol, Malia reached out to the head pro who worked with another staff member to get the green light. She did. And for anyone who asks, yes, she hit a hole-in-one from the championship tees. 

After the round, during which Malia hit for the cycle—eagle, birdie and par, our group accompanied her to the pro shop where she thanked the staff members for their help. They handed over an OC pennant, commemorating the feat. We then went to the Champions Bar where she greeted folks with an introduction and the big news."Enjoy a beverage of your choice, on me" she said. To see the reactions of other club members—the smiles, the fist bumps, high fives and hugs was what made the ace that much more special. What hole? What club did you use? It was awesome to see the unsuspecting people around us meet Malia under the most auspicious of circumstances ;-) 

I had to leave the spirited gathering to celebrate my sister Sarah's birthday. After our dinner, I asked Sarah—an artist and painter— if she would be interested in watching the final chapter of George Bush's MasterClass, entitled "Happy are the Painters" with me. I read the description 

Join President Bush in his personal studio in Maine. The former president concludes his class by sharing why he decided to start painting and how he views learning as a lifelong pursuit.
This session focused on not only why he started but why he continues to paint. In addition to his love of learning, Bush used the words of another world leader who took up painting after his time in office to explain why it's his passion today. Churchill said

Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day.

Though these words appeared on the screen beside the artistic work of Churchill, I couldn't help but connect his sentiment to what occurred on the golf course earlier that day. I thought back to Malia's hole in one. With 20/20 vision, my mind's eye sees  her standing in the tee box, her stroke, the arc of the ball mid-flight and the result of her effort. 

We golfers are the painters of sport. Each round is characterized by its own number of strokes. The golf club is our brush. We can only play in the light. Indeed, the game is an exercise in hope. It never leaves me lonely.

During the round, one can feel inner turmoil. Many strokes are toiled and exacting. But there's always some part of the experience that offers an inner peace—the beauty of the course, exposure to the elements and the changing of seasons that time with the game affords. When the strokes are smooth—light and easy, fluid and fun the painters, I mean golfers are very happy.

How lucky are we to keep company with friends to the end of the day? Friends we may have met through this artistic medium that we celebrate and honor in many ways. But for whom on Sunday, February 25 we did for a singular brush stroke, a hole in one. 

Congratulations, Malia or as many people call you—Madame President. Time for us to figure out what is your presidential number....

Photo Credits
The Olympian

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