A Weekend of Resilience

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This past weekend was thrilling for golf enthusiasts as the United States Open came down to the wire with an unforgettable finish. Traditionally played on Father’s Day, the final round occurred at Pinehurst in North Carolina, often called the Cathedral of American Golf. My favorite, Rory McIlroy, missed a four-foot putt in a nailbiter finish, ceding the championship to Bryson DeChambeau.

While the pros were battling it out, I spent my weekend on the golf course with a few friends, one of whom brought his father along for the game. His dad, Bob, plays with “Super Senior Status,” meaning he hits from tees, which significantly shortens the playing distance.

Bob has been golfing his whole life, and it was a privilege to join him. Despite his macular degeneration, which required us to assist him in choosing the right club and pointing out bunkers and distances to the pin, Bob’s passion for the game shone through.

He completed the round with 102 strokes. Though his drives only reached 75 yards, he maintained the same focus and ritual that he had when his drives use to reach 225 yards. The consistency in his approach to each shot was a testament to his enduring love for the game.

What stood out most was Bob’s reaction to his own mistakes. Like any athlete, he quickly critiqued himself after a bad shot. When he hit into a sand bunker, he exclaimed, “You can do better than that.” After missing a five-foot putt, he attributed it to misreading the green despite his limited vision. I laughed as I realized I’d been saying those things to myself for 50 years.

Naturally, our foursome played for a few dollars, and Bob, with his experience and skill, made some impressive shots and drained a few key putts, ultimately coming out on top.

Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to know many individuals who age with grace and vitality. At the end of our round, I asked Bob how old he was, and he told me he was 94. My response was immediate and heartfelt: “Bob, you are amazing.” He told me he just keeps coming back. “Resilience”, I thought. His beaming smile matched my own.

Back at the US Open, in his post-press meetings, Rory criticized his game just like Bob, but he also told them that if there were one word to describe his career, it would be resilience.

Just like Bob.

I don’t necessarily look for resilience in everything I do, but it keeps finding me, it seems, no matter what I do.

© Richard Citrin 2024

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