Golf Instructor by Happenstance

I am not one for needing a sense of power, but for a brief period last week I had all the power in the world. I was a volunteer golf instructor at a local course. I can still feel the excitement pulsing through my body. This must be what it felt like to be John Wooden. I was a leader, a coach and a mentor all in one 30-minute period and I never want that feeling to go away.

As I walked to hit balls on the range and figure out why every shot since the beginning of time has gone right, I see this lady looking confused and annoyed. I stop to ask if she is looking for something or someone. She said she was waiting on private golf lessons, and that she doesn’t know what her instructor looks like and added that he was apparently very late.

I had two choices here.

I could have said “good luck with that” and walked on, never to see her again. Or, I could let her know that I am the instructor and then apologize for my tardiness. Well, I am happy to inform you that I threw honesty out the window and rolled with it, “Yeah it’s me.” I was now a fake golf teacher.

She took my apology in stride and thanked me for making time to teach the wonderful game of golf. I told her it was my honor.  I asked her to go get her clubs and meet at the range. The lady stared right through me with that look of confusion appearing again.

“The lessons aren’t for me. They are for my boy, Joseph,” She said sternly.
“Yeah I know, I’m just having some fun with you,” I say nervously.

Before I know it, Joe has his 4-club starter set on his back and he is sprinting towards the practice area. Now I am in this a little too deep, but I can’t stop. I was addicted to the lie. There was something so exciting knowing that this lady was buying what I was selling.

Then the real (fake) lesson begins.

After two swings I knew this kid didn’t have a clue what he was doing. I asked him if he had ever played before. He ignored me and kept swinging wildly. In some way, I was impressed by his ability to block everything out and just swing. I told him how proud of him I was, and that in order to be a good golfer you just have to keep swinging as hard as you can.  Don’t worry about what ANYBODY tells you on the course.

“You play your game, your way, and you are destined to be a professional golfer,” I told him.

His eyes widened as the words I was uttering were sinking in. For thirty straight minutes, I peppered him with questions about how he was going to spend all the money he was going to earn as a pro golfer. There was a question about the color of his yacht. How many homes would be enough for him? Joe kept feeding me details on the things he wanted and bragged that he would be the number one golfer by the time he was 16-years old. There was no doubt in my mind that in this moment, I was changing a life.

Joe will go into the rest of his life knowing that one simple golf lesson gave him the courage and confidence to be a professional golfer. He will tell his mom how amazing the day was, and that for the first time in his life he has a purpose. This is the day that will forever be known as the day everything changed for him. Who knows, maybe his mommy and daddy will get back together and they will finally take that family trip to St. Louis. The point is, the sky is the limit for this young kid and it feels great knowing that it is 100% due to me.

After the lesson, I was walking to the car and watched as Joe put his clubs in the trunk and I heard him tell his Mom, “That guy didn’t teach me anything. I don’t think he even knows how to play golf.”

“I know honey. Sometimes we do things for people to make them feel good and he looked like he needed a friend and a reason to be out here,” she said. “We did something good today Joe. Let’s go home.”

Well played.