10 Life Lessons I Learned from Golf (that can apply to Student Affairs)

by Amanda Stewart

My husband took me golfing this weekend. It was my first time (if you don’t count 2 driving range experiences and some mini golf here and there) on a real-deal golf course. Thanks to a killer-awesome Groupon find, we got to go all out (golf cart + appetizer included). It was a blast. There were a lot of lessons I learned from our day on the course.

Disclaimer: I am a novice golfer so all of my “lingo” is probably incorrect. Bear with me.

  1. Patience. In life, and in our careers we must have patience. Patience on the golf course at first, wasn’t something that I was comfortable with. I didn’t understand why we had to wait so long for the people in front of us to finish. In working with our students, in getting through graduate school, job searching, explaining what we do to others, in dealing with challenging supervisors... we all need patience. By hole 3-4, I was settling into the speed of the game. By the end of 9 holes (I was wiped after only 9 - I don’t know how people play 18!), I felt more relaxed and zen. Practicing patience is good for your whole soul.
  2. Breathe deep and loosen your grip. I don’t really know how to golf, but I found that when I took a deep breath, and loosened my grip on my club, I had a more successful and natural swing. At work, I have been known to hold onto projects that I should have let go. Letting people in to help out, asking for help, taking a deep breath now and then - it makes everyone’s job easier. We do better work when we take the time to regroup.
  3. Trying new things is fun for your relationship. Many relationship articles and marriage counselors talk about the importance of trying new things together. I think that trying new things with your students is a way to build safe, authentic, trusting relationships. It takes you off that level of “boss” and brings you down to someone they can connect with. Getting uncomfortable with people is a great way to bond - marriage, work, friend, colleague.
  4. Laugh at yourself. Things don’t always go as planned in life, in work, in golf. Getting used to laughing at yourself and owning your mistakes is a good place to start. No one is perfect.
  5. It’s harder than it looks. I have a whole new level of respect for golfers. I couldn’t even make it through 18 holes (and we had a golf cart!). My arms were sore the next day (probably from swinging so hard and missing so many times). You never know what someone else has on their desk. You don’t know what kind of day someone is having. Take time to ask questions. Learn. Support. Don’t make assumptions.
  6. Take risks. I wasn’t sure if I could hit my ball over the water hazard (and I was unsuccessful each time) but hey, I tried! That’s how you get better. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail (or sink).
  7. It’s your game. Life. Golf. Your job search. Your first professional position. Your relationships. It’s all yours to build into what you want. Take charge. Dream big. It’s your game.
  8. Fresh air. Sometimes all I need to clear my head is a day of fresh air. Even stepping outside for a few moments of fresh air during a challenging work day, or taking a walk at lunch helps me feel centered again. Don’t underestimate the value of the great outdoors.
  9. Use all your clubs. Driver. Putter. Wedges. I don’t really know what they’re all called, but I know that we used different clubs for different types of hits. Our golf bag was like our toolbox. Use all your skills. Utilize your team for different things. Play to one anothers strengths.
  10. Plan for mistakes. We only bought 5 balls for our 9 holes. At the 1st hole, my golf ball was lost in someone’s backyard (almost landed in their pool which would have been pretty cool), and my husband’s golf ball was lost in the woods. We were off to a good start, and down to only 3 balls. Moral of the story? Plan for mistakes. Plan for things not to go your way.

Are you a golfer? Do you see life lessons and connections to the game?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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