My husband plays golf. It is the four-letter word of sports.
In general, when people play golf, they probably say more 4-letter words than when playing other sports. My own experience usually ends in frustration, so I have, in recent years, relegated myself to driving the cart and watching when my family plays.
Growing up playing golf does something to you. Something deep. It has become more and more apparent to me in the past few years.
My husband explains:
In every other sport, if you cheat or break the rules and the Ref doesn’t see, you get away with it. It is considered a victory. In golf, you call penalties on yourself. Only you know if you have cheated or broken the rules. It is a game of honor. Championships have been lost because someone in the woods moved a twig out of the way and their ball moved. They came out of the woods and told the Ref, “The ball moved. Give me the penalty.” Game over. Championship lost. When golfers are asked why they would do such a thing, their answers are telling. People say to them, “No one would know. Why not just hit the ball?” The golfer answers. “I would know.”
I would know.
I would know.
That’s integrity at its finest. We teach our kids that integrity is doing the right thing when no one else is watching. The right thing. Even if no one knows. Because you will know.
Yes, growing up playing golf does something to you. It digs that integrity in deep. When presented with other situations in life, in business, in relationships, when others say, “No one will know,” the golfer answers in his heart, “I would know.” Watching a golfer approach life that way and teach his kids that way brings mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m proud that my kids see that in him. On the other, sometimes I’m ticked off that he gets the short end of the stick, that he gets screwed over for doing the right thing. Just this week at dinner we were talking about an issue at his job and he stated, “If I get sued for doing the right thing, I consider that a win.” (To be clear: neither one of us want him to get sued.) That strong statement revealed to me how strongly he feels about it. To be honest, I don’t know if I would be that strong.
The conversations that result after dinner can be equally tough. Telling my teenager that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean things turn out rosy. Sharing with him that sometimes it is the harder road to walk. Revealing to him that sometimes we just end up screwed in life situations, but we need to do the right thing anyway.
I would know.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” – Luke 16:10