Listen and learn from others

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

By Nathan Rice

We had just finished our game of mini-golf when the adjacent driving range caught their eyes. I knew the driving range was much harder than hitting a neon orange ball through a windmill, but I decided to let them give it a try. We filled up a couple bucket of balls, grabbed a few clubs and found some spots on the range.

With buckets of balls available and clubs in hands, they found their position and excitedly started swinging at the tee. They even made contact a time or two! I gave them a few tips on how to properly swing followed by the almost obligatory “have fun” statement given to kids who are set free to go on their own. I stepped back and watched them enjoy the game, but I also noticed them getting frustrated at their lack of ability to drive the ball as long as they desired.

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One by one, I gave them some advice on how to make better contact and drive the ball further. Making my way down the line, I approached Michael as he said, “This is harder than it looks.” Doing my best, I showed him how different golf is from baseball. “Don’t step like you do in baseball. Straighten your legs, keep your head down and your eyes on the ball.” I demonstrated a swing and returned the club to him.

It wasn’t long before all of them were back to their fatal flaw on their swings. They were having fun, so I let them continue without interruption even though they were getting frustrated from time to time. This wasn’t a coaching session or a training course for young golfers. We were on vacation, so the goal was to have fun. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, if they would be having more fun if they had listened to my advice and were better able to drive the ball down the range.

We’ve probably all been guilty of not listening to advice, and there are many reasons we fail to do so. Sometimes, like these young golfers eagerly swinging clubs, we’re too excited to take the time to listen to those who may know more than us. We’re so eager to get started that we start doing things without ever really paying attention to those showing us how to better accomplish our mission.

Other times we think we know more than we do, and our overconfidence blocks out those who are trying to help us along. Golf looks easy. You step to the tee, swing a club, and the ball goes 300 yards down the center of the fairway. That’s how it’s done on TV, but Michael and the others quickly found out that it is more difficult than it appears.

We would all do better at times if we stopped to listen to those who are trying to help us along our journey. There are many who know more than us and are willing to help, but we will gain nothing from their experience and wisdom if we don’t pay attention to what they are telling us.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at