Laura Cross

Sunday Morning Putter

Golf is like the game of living,

it will show up what you are.

If you take your troubles badly,

you will never play to par.

- Edgar A. Guest

This stanza never fails to remind me of the certainty in golf, and in life, that troubles will occur. Ultimately, your success in either is determined by the attitude by which you face adversity.

Good morning. My name is Laura Cross and I have respected the game of golf for 15 years and actively played the game of life for 25. I began my golfing journey at the age of 6 with a swing that launched more earth than ball, and through talent and desire I went on to compete at Southern Methodist University on a full golf scholarship.

Spending countless hours practicing alone and chipping away to perfect my game, I have been blessed to play with some of the sport’s finest athletes. I continue to be intrigued at the way lessons from golf parallel lessons in life. The purpose of this column will be to share with you the way by which these particular golf lessons can be applied to your day-to-day living.

It is hard to recall such a seasonal burst of wet weather like the one we have splashed around in as of late. The grey skies weighed down by the humid and frigid airs have left us wading through rain soaked fairways that would test the trousers of even the most avid of player.

So, what does one do when the elements in life turn against his favor? Do you persevere or become known as the “Fair Weather Professional?” Do you curse Mother Nature from the comfort of your Lay-Z-Boy, or do you put on your rain jacket and continue on your merry way? Simply put, do you let nature determine your actions, or do your actions determine your nature? My friend, your actions are a choice and those choices reflect mightily in your game, and in your life.

If you choose to eat problems for breakfast you approach difficult situations (such as that beautiful drive that has inconveniently nestled itself in a crater-sized divot) as an opportunity to learn and experience new things. Those who look at problems as a vehicle to discover solutions will find life more rewarding and have a very large bag of tricks to pull from when that not-so-bad approach shot turns into a fried egg in the sand.

The day I discovered I could not control the wind, bad bounces, and breaks in the green, I resolved to become a master at “trouble shots.” I recreate tough shots that have cost me strokes and tournaments. Spend at least 10 minutes of your practice time hitting shots from difficult lies. The reward far outweighs the effort exerted. 

For example, find a soaked area just off the practice green and hit shots to determine which club is best for you and the best technique in which to hit that sloppy shot. In addition, find a deep divot in the middle of the fairway and practice hitting out of this lie.

You may find it beneficial to grip down slightly on the club, play the ball back in your stance, and drive the back of your left hand down through the ball to ensure you do not top the ball. Another idea is to drop a few practice balls in thick rough to have a better idea of how your club will react out of those overgrown weeds.

It is very possible you may whiff the chip shot a few times or mow the rough with your club-head when practicing these shots. Don’t give up. The purpose of doing these things is to better prepare yourself for the inevitable bad lie so that rather than having words with the group ahead for not filling in their divots, you impress your group by stepping up to the shot and hit it well because you have practiced it before.

I encourage you in the days ahead to face reality with the knowledge that life creates problems, problems yield solutions, and solutions return rewards. Winners look at gloomy situations as an opportunity to make life better and arrive at a peaceful place. Seek solutions and the gray sky may soon become brighter. 

Laura Cross is a guest columnist for the Daily Light. She is a Midlothian High School graduate and state golf champion.