by Peter Fibiger
How often I’ve heard the expression that “experience is the greatest teacher of all.” I can’t argue that, but I can take it a step further and say that of all of my education, formal and otherwise, sports rank as one of the greatest learning experiences to be had.
And in all of the sports of which I’ve partaken, either by direct participation, or even through observation, it’s my firm conclusion that no other sport can match the insights delivered every time I pick up a golf club or watch others, professional or amateur, do the same.
Team sports including ice hockey, soccer, and even cricket were an integral part of my earlier life, as were the individual challenges afforded by tennis and gymnastics. But pure fortune had me growing up across the street from Victoria Golf Club, a founding club of the PNGA and one of the Pacific Northwest’s enduring classic tracks. It was there in my teenage years that I began to become aware on the one hand of the limits of misplaced confidence and the treachery of doubt; while on the other, the rewards of commitment and self-control started to make themselves evident to an adolescent mind.
Now, after the passage of far too many years, and the playing of uncountable rounds, this game that consumes its adherents with a relentless appetite continues to confound me (and, I suspect, you too) as often as it delights us. I say that as if, somehow, the fault lies with the game itself. Regrettably, I know different.
These days I’m coming around to ever-deeper appreciation for the peace afforded to an old mind by the perfume of fresh-cut grass carried by an early morning breeze; the not unpleasant aches resulting from a four-hour walk up and down the fairways of my local club; and as ever, the satisfaction of an occasionally well-struck iron, or that uniquely satisfying sound of a putt, lengthy or not, rattling around the bottom of the cup.
You’d think that would be reward enough, but no. Unendingly being hammered home to me still are constant reminders about the sabotage inherent in impatience – impatience with slow play when I could just look around and savor the day; impatience to hit the ball, despite knowing full well that another practice swing and a short refocus will inevitably produce a better shot; impatience to roll a putt when a quick walk-around will reveal an as yet unnoticed break. Each one of these oversights completely avoidable but for a lesson not yet learned.
What gives rise to this need for speed? Sometimes I think it might be in response to the ceaseless ticking of my internal clock: Hurry up! You’re running out of time old man! At other times, I wonder if it’s not the habits of a lifetime of hustling to finish a project, close a deal, be on time for a meeting.
Whatever the truth, the grand old game continues its efforts to teach me its lessons. Often, they continue to fall on deaf ears, because too often I continue to be my own worst enemy.
Peter Fibiger served on the PNGA Board of Directors for 18 years, including 12 years on the Executive Committee and more than a decade as the PNGA Communications Committee Chairman. He also served as PNGA President from 2018-2021. He lives in Victoria, B.C., and he’ll tell a few tales over a Guinness. Click here to read the full article on Peter’s impact on the PNGA and the golf community.