How Many of These Things Have You Achieved in Golf
Bobby Jones was famously quoted as saying: "Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball where it lies."
It's hard to argue with that sentiment, but the metaphor can arguably progress even beyond that remark. This often bewilderingly captivating sport is an integral part of many lives - and there are a multitude of reasons why that is the case.
Yes, it's an opportunity for exercise in beautiful environments. It's also a great way socialise with others during a round, making for a welcome escape from the frustrations of everyday life. But human beings are inherently aspirational by nature. We want to achieve things, reach seemingly unobtainable heights, and gain rewards for our dedicated efforts at improvement.
Golf offers all of those things during every round and over each shot. It's a constant challenge - but one packed with accomplishments, little and large, personal and universal.
While not everyone will claim a major championship and become the best player in the world, or even break 80 during their lifetime, this game still presents the platform for achievement. And that keeps us all coming back for more.
Here are some things that we could all seek to accomplish this year and beyond.
Won a Competition
Participation is everything, getting outside, taking in the fresh air and trying to play your best. Enjoyment and companionship are at the heart of what golf should be about - but it's undeniably fun to win now and again.
Have you won a competition? Thanks to the handicap system, we could all manage to get our hands on a trophy. It might not be the Claret Jug, but how much satisfaction would you take away should you pick a title?
Whether it be a golf club open - which we recommend you consider entering this season - or a specific category in your monthly medal, or even beating the pack as part of a society event, winning isn't everything to us mere mortals, but you'll always remember the evening when you were part of a prize giving ceremony.
Reached Single Figures (Or Your Personal Handicap Goal)
The handicap system makes everyone competitive, but it's also the perfect barometer to judge yourself against in the pursuit of improvement. We'd all love to play better golf - who wouldn't - and many of us work tirelessly to make it happen with regular rounds, routine visits to the range, and even taking lessons to find that little edge to knock a stroke or two from our index.
Many golfers aspire to reach single figures - and those who are there would simply love to play off scratch. But even if that mountain is clearly too high for ascend, whatever your personal handicap goal is, that's something to strive towards, making that extra time spent on the practice green worthwhile - and just ponder how rewarding it would be to reach your objective!
Played The Open Championship Venues
If you're a tennis fan, it's unlikely we'll see you on Centre Court at Wimbledon, while football supporters are probably never going to take to the pitch at Wembley, but golfers (rather uniquely) have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of legends and heroes by playing some of the most famous courses on the planet.
For golfers in the UK, it's the Open Championship venues that are most dear to our hearts, and you could stride the fairways of St Andrews, Birkdale, Troon, Muirfield, Carnoustie, Sandwich, etc. Yes, these tee times are expensive to secure, but the memories will last a lifetime as you etch a little piece of your own history at one of the game's most storied stages.
We reckon that everyone should play at least one Open course during their life in golf - and what better time than now!
Played Golf Abroad
If you're a member of a golf club, that's where your regular games will be, while those of a more nomadic persuasion might travel around their local area and tick off nearby layouts.
You might even be tempted to go on a tour of courses in a different part of the country, but why not consider stretching your wings even further and embarking on a proper golf holiday abroad.
Whether you indulge in the immaculate climate of Spain or Portugal or lavish in the luxury of an-inclusive break in Turkey, there are so many options out there to choose from. Playing the game in a different country (or even continent) will only expand your golfing education and experience.
Introduced Someone to The Game
Earlier, we suggested that golf is partly about companionship, spending that time on the course together, enjoying someone else's company and sharing the endless moments of unpredictability and routine farce created during a round.
But think of how special it would be to introduce the sport to someone else - exchanging the gift of golf with a newcomer. Whether it be a friend, partner or child, if you can be that person's gateway into the game - and they fall in love with it - then they'll be forever grateful to you.
That's a meaningful connection - and it's one that will endure.
Make a Hole-in-One
Come on, we'd all love to make a hole-in-one. And many of you already have - plenty of high-handicappers have even enjoyed that unforgettable meeting of a great shot blessed with more than a sprinkling of luck - but some of us (yours truly included) have never had that moment of ecstasy and been obligated to buy everyone a drink afterwards.
Phil Mickelson recently claimed to have made 47 aces during his lifetime - astonishing. But we're not greedy - just one will do for us, and why can't it be this year? Let's aim to be aggressive on par 3s and have a go at the flag - who knows what might happen.
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