Putt It Out!

I love a good motto. I am a big believer that saying something over and over again is a great way to embed it into your brain. And doing so will help you live out that motto/mantra/catchphrase in everyday situations. The funny thing about life is that there are a lot of ways to get caught up in the moment and forget who you are, so it’s good to have something you can lean on and act as a north star. This might sound like some weird life hack or internet age tomfoolery, but maxims have been around since the Middle Ages. Even the most self assured need to remind themselves of who they are and what they are fighting for every now and again.

I have a bunch of maxims that I keep up in my brain. Most of them can be broadly applied to many situations in life and can at times feel a little vague. AMDG (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam - For the Greater Glory of God) is something that carries me through life spiritually. It’s something I learned while in high school that has helped me remember why I do anything. It’s A Great Day To Get Better is another one that I picked up in High School (they were formative years, after all), that reminds me that I don’t have to be perfect every day, just as long as I am trying to get a little better. If I do that, I can count each day as a success. When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going is one I picked up from my Mother (she picked it up from Vince Lombardi, I think) and it’s a reminder about the correct response to difficult situations. There are a bunch more that I am a big fan of, but most of them I picked up from someone else.

But recently, I discovered one organically, and it has been a wonderful experience. It has grown and transformed and had a major impact on my attitude and life in just a few short weeks. The phrase: Putt It Out.

I have been a golfer my whole life. A startlingly high number of life lessons have been learned through the game. And I keep on playing because I keep finding new surprises around every dog-leg and under every unplayable lie. There’s something in golf that I have taken for granted for a while: the gimme. At the end of a hole, if you ball get’s close enough, your playing partner will say “that’s good” and you don’t have to actually perform that final stroke. It still counts toward your score, but it’s a weight off your shoulders - one less putt to read, more time to get ready for the next whole, a little less pressure.

But the gimme is more than that. It’s an enabler. There are no gimmes in legit stroke play events. So why would there be a different set of rules for your weekend foursome? Gimmes also dangerously flirt with distorted reality. There are a lot of golfers (myself included) who give themselves putts that they probably shouldn’t give. The gimme is also a thief. It takes away from a golfer the best thing about the sport - actually completing a hole.

I am not saying giving putts is bad. If you are playing a match play event, it’s well within your right to do so and you probably should out of respect. But a lot of golfers give themselves putts. And this is where life gets lopsided. Most tour pros are about 70% on converting putts from 6 feet. Think about that for a second - the greatest group of golfers in the whole world still miss three out of every ten 6-footers. And so many amateurs give themselves a six-foot putt.

I am not here to rail against following the spirit of the game or anything like that. Play the game the way you want to play. At the end of the day, it’s a game and it’s meant to be fun - don’t let some idiot on the internet tell you how to live. And I know there’s a whole subset of golfers who would probably read this and think “no duh - did this guy just discover integrity?” One of the best things about the game is you can play your own way.

Putt It Out means more than just finishing your hole on the golf course. It can be applied to a variety of other parts of life as well. Putt It Out means not taking any short cuts. Putt It Outs means playing by the rules. Putt It Out means seeing something to the end. Putt It Out represents doing things the way you said you were going to do them - sticking to your word.

One of the remarkable things about putting it out every single time is the idea that every shot really does counts. When you have a long putt that requires a solid lag, you have to actually spend time reading the green and executing that shot. That puts extra pressure on every shot. Which is what Putt It Out really means: things matter. You can make mistakes, but you also will have to learn from them and try and fix them, just like on the golf course. In life, you don’t really get any gimmes. And you can’t really cut any corners. Putting it out makes you play each round - each shot - deliberately.

You get just one life - so Putt It Out.

Peter G Schmidt