We find ourselves basking in the season of golf majors. We just watched the Masters (won by evangelical Bubba Watson), and U.S. Open (won by evangelical Webb Simpson), and in another couple of weeks, we'll get to enjoy the British Open (to be won by another evangelical?). We're getting to watch professional golfers at the top of their game hit perfect shot after perfect shot in the most challenging contests.
Except, if you talk to a PGA professional on tour after they've stepped off the 18th green with a score of, let's say, two-under-par 70, they'll tell you that they probably hit two shots exactly as they intended to hit them. Two out of seventy. Doesn't sound like they are very good. But they are the world's best. How can these things be?
Of course, having spent years honing their skills at hitting a golf ball, they have also learned, at a level you and I cannot comprehend, what it means to swing a golf club and hit a golf ball exactly as they intend and as the laws of physics demand in any given situation. What is also true is that even though they "fail" 68 out of 70 times, they aren't particularly discouraged. They recognize that this pattern of failure is more or less—excuse the pun—par for the course. This is the way, the truth, and the life of golf. And the sooner you come to grips with incessant failure, the more you can enjoy the game.
This rule of thumb roughly holds for amateurs, though our definition of perfect is more liberal, and more uninformed, than that of pros. Most amateurs will not hit more than three "decent" shots out of 100 in any given round. What's amazing is how little this discourages most of us. And how much we still believe that during the next round, we're probably going to hit somewhere ...1
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