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Sharpening

Man Playing Golf

As this week’s Monday Huddle Up is being written, the year’s first major golf championship is coming to a close in Augusta, Georgia. The world’s number one player, Scottie Scheffler, is on his way to claiming his second Masters title and the green jacket that comes with it. As the final round played out, each golfer in pursuit of Scheffler made fatal mistakes, all while Scottie made none. His golf game is so good in all areas that he is quite hard to beat anytime he tees it up.


At regular PGA Tour events, the course set up is usually relatively simple. This allows the best players in the world to make a lot of birdies (which the fans love) and winning scores are often 15 or 20 under par. Not in the important events. The Masters, US Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship make up the “Grand Slam” of golf, also known as the four “majors.” The US Open is notorious for difficult golf courses with the winner usually struggling to match par for the week. One US Open in particular led famous tournament director Sandy Tatum to say, "We're not trying to humiliate the best players in the world, we're simply trying to identify them.”


As is true in most any sport, if you don’t have your “A-game” in a major golf championship, you will struggle. This week alone at the Masters, some of the best golfers in the world experienced this. Tiger Woods finished dead last for those that made it to the weekend. Two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson shot 80 on Friday. Former world #1 Dustin Johnson finished fourth from last. Hard courses are tough for anyone that isn’t prepared.


So how can we apply this to our daily lives? Here you go…..


In anything we do, if we are not prepared, or our “game” isn’t sharp, we will be exposed. You can’t hide from a tough golf course, you have to hit the shots. One can’t blow off an important work project because you are not ready, that will catch up to you. If we don’t keep our skills sharpened at whatever we do, we won’t be able to “compete” with the best of the best. This theory is true in whatever we do.


Sports. Academia. Work. Marriage. Theology. Non-profit leadership.


No matter the task, we have to sharpen our skills continuously. There was a day that I would bet you if I played Augusta National Golf Club that I could’ve broken 80 and on a good day challenged par (72). Those days are long gone. If you don’t practice and sharpen your skills (like putting, driving, and your short game in golf), you can’t just step up to the proverbial first tee and make a bunch of birdies like it was 20 years ago. Golf doesn’t work that way, neither does life.


To be ready for that next challenge, we must intentionally and frequently sharpen our skills. Talk to leaders in your field about how they achieve success. Schedule time to take a professional development course (or three). Practice your presentation skills by recording them and review them like a football coach watches tape. Ask others to critique your work and garner feedback to improve upon in the future.


Whatever way you decide to sharpen your skills, schedule it, be intentional about it, and make it part of your routine. May there be many “birdies” in your future.


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