So I guess everyone--at least all golfers--have talked to death the sixth runner-up situation that leaves Phil Mickelson again in second place position at the 113th United States Open. He's pretty sanguine about it, as far as the media reports, when many of us would be tearing our hair out at the thought of getting so close--six times--and still not coming home with the Big Win!
All the talk about golf over the weekend made me think about a phrase that my husband often uses when we play a golf course together. He talks of "addressing the ball." The phrase has to do with the preliminary preparation that a golfer is supposed to make before actually hitting the ball with a club.
My husband is not alone in his interest in this term. In fact, there is so much interest in this subject that the Rules of Golf (yes, a near-sacred set of regulations that are used in connection with all golf play) were changed in 2012 to reflect this. The new Rules of Golf state: "The player has 'addressed the ball' when he has grounded his club immediately in front or or immediately behind the ball, whether or not he has taken his stance."
We won't go into the fact that the Rules of Golf seem to be written only for men. There is not a "she" or "her" to be found in here. But what's more interesting to me at the moment is the phrase itself: addressing the ball. Golfers take this seriously. Even in a casual game, one of the rudimentary things about golf is preparing to hit the ball. You don't just walk up to the ball with a club and bat away at it. At least, not if you want it to go anywhere.
You prepare for the stroke. You look at the ball. You look at where you want the ball to go. You adjust your position, your stance, as you look at the ball. And you focus. Focus. Focus on that ball. Not where you plan to go to lunch, not what your spouse said that morning before you left, not whether the deal you have been working on for months has a prayer of getting signed. You focus on the ball. Just that. And then you take your swing.
I started thinking about the fact that when we play golf we take great pains to remove extraneous thoughts from our mind in order to address the ball. Then we swing.
But so often when we are about to enter a conversation, when we are about to say something, we don't think about addressing the person to whom we are speaking. We don't think of getting into focus so that we are not distracted by other thoughts and discussions. We fail to think carefully before swinging, before opening our mouths. And we don't stop to think about the possible consequences of what we are about to say.
No wonder our conversations often end up as bogeys rather than a birdies.