Nick Watney: In Life There Are Problems

When you become a seeker, you begin to take risks. You begin to feel uneasy about what you discover that you don’t know. So you start to deal with it by looking for wisdom where you find it. And you begin to come out of your cocoon. You begin to try to find a way to deal with the dissatisfactions and unease of life.

I was lucky because in Fred Shoemaker, I had a business partner who saw no separation between the study of life’s philosophy and what would make a killer curriculum for an alternative golf school. We co-founded the School For Extraordinary Golf. He did the golf stuff and I did the business stuff.

He was a trailblazer with books always close at hand and an interest in human potential workshops. I felt like I needed to keep up so that the partnership continued to have relatedness as its keystone. It was something I was eager to do.

So my wife and I attended one of these weekend workshops — they were all the rage in Northern California — and were blown away by the enlightenment-by-simple-ideas we experienced. One in particular had hour’s worth of predicate work that led up to the light bulb moment about how to deal with life’s problems.

We were so excited and relieved and…”out there” due to this new concept. But the concept came to us more as an experience than as an idea. So when we sat down together to distill our understanding of this gem, we couldn’t remember exactly what it was. I know this sounds incredible, but as I said, we were in the experience of the concept and not taking notes.

Fortunately, the organization that produced these workshops was very experienced and well-organized; they knew that these kinds of roadblocks crop up. So you are given a contact number to call when you run into issues sorting things out. I left a message.

In short order, I got an ardently helpful assistant on the line. I told him that we had been blown away by the workshop’s discussion on how to deal with life’s problems, but we were unable to call up the kernel of the central idea. Could he please tell me what I was missing?

“Oh, yes,” he said in his clipped Indian accent. “The idea that you are trying to recall is, ‘In life there are problems.'”

“Ohhhh, yeah. How could I forget that?”

What made me think of all of that is something that Nick Watney said in his post-round interview at The Barclays on Friday. He shares the 36-hole lead at 8-under with Sergio Garcia on Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. But he got there in a very interesting way.

He came into the day one stroke back of Padraig Harrington at 6-under. He began with three clean pars, made an eagle-3 on the 4th and a birdie on 7. Seven holes and already 3-under; not a bad start.

But then he bogeyed 8…and 12 and was back to just 1-under on the day.

Then his talent caught up with the circumstances and he made three birdies in a row:

Yeah, 13 and 14 I made really nice putts.  The greens were getting really fast, very firm there at the end, and then 15, I drove it in the fairway, which was huge with the front pin, and hit it about a foot and a half.  Obviously a great stretch for me there.

But the satisfaction was short-lived; he bogeyed 16 and 18 to finish at 2-under 69 on the day. But having done workshop training of a golfing kind, he wasn’t all that upset by it.

Can you talk about your emotions a bit?  You had four bogeys and you were still 2‑under on the day, kind of a roller coaster maybe?

A little bit.  But my emotions, one of the things I’ve been trying to work on this year has been — especially of late — has been my attitude, just not getting so down if something doesn’t go right. I like to say that they didn’t affect me too much, but on a course this difficult, bogeys are going to happen, and you’ve just got to kind of get over it and move on.

I think that’s the best way to — if you can hit a good shot, then there are birdies to be made.  If you make a bogey and then drive it in the rough, you’re looking at another tough save.

As far as making bogeys, they’re just going to happen; you’ve just got to roll with it.

Or stated another way: “In life there are problems.”

If you come across somebody who insists that golf is a dumb game, tell them this story. Or better yet, have them start reading this blog.

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