I discovered golf because I watched Tiger Woods play the 13th hole at the 2005 Masters. He was in a playoff with DiMarco. He needed a par put to stay in the hunt. The ball was underneath the mound shading the hole location from where Tiger stood. He chipped it. The ball curled around the green making a beeline for the hole. Upon reaching its edge, the ball stilled for the most breath-taking 3 seconds and then slowly, oh so slowly, rolled in. A roar curled out into a deafening crescendo. But in my living room, a deafening silence. Of the 4 people watching, no one moved or said anything. Didn’t have to. The rounded eyes and unspoken “oh” hovering over lips, was statement enough. I was watching magic. I was watching a human being transform a game into a sport. It was like watching MMA, except that this guy was pummeling competition with a small white ball and a club. Like Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods is the greatest. I took to golf. Since I didn’t know many women who played the game, I tagged along with my partner and his boys to 6:30 a.m. tee times. I told myself I wasn’t there to compete, only to enjoy the crisp early morning on a beautiful green course. But something happened as soon as I semi-crouched to let the first shot fly. I wanted to hit as hard, if not harder, and further, if not farther, than the boys. And sometimes I did, much to my glee, even though I never showed it. Not part of golf etiquette, I knew. But can I say it was fun to sometimes hit the ball so close to the hole on a par 3 that a birdie was inevitable? I made some really good ones, I have to admit! But the point of it all is more than a birdie or two. Golf to me represented life in its most frustrating avatar and its most rewarding. On one hole, you may land in the water. But on the second hole, you make a sweet birdie. If one bad hole makes you want to throw your irons into the water where your ball is, a good hole makes you feel like the greatest. A bad hole will drive you to quit and never play again. A good hole will keep you right where you are, at a 6:30 a.m. tee time on a cold Sunday morning. So I learned with this yin and yan of the game—to be patient, to focus, to let a bad swing not take away from one good one. And that is all you needed to keep going. Golf makes your persevere. It makes you believe that you can. And then one day, you are kind of in the same position as Tiger on that day at the Masters in 2005. You chip from below the hole, the ball curls, rolls towards the flag, hits it, and drops into the hole. And there is complete silence. No one moves. But you can see the enlarged eyes and the unspilled “oh” at what just happened. I had made par from an impossible position. I had gone bogey, bogey for the last two holes. Suddenly, I was back in the game. I had persevered and the par was my reward. In that moment, I knew I was going to be back the next weekend, playing 18 holes with the boys, taking my chances, persevering, learning, believing. And wait patiently for my rewards to come. Magic is practice and patience. Ask Tiger Woods. He knows. He is back. He is not where he was in 2005 0r 2008 when he won his last major. But he has persevered. And his fans know. And that is what makes him the greatest golfer of all time, not his 14 major wins. His work ethic, his focus, his singular ability to do anything that has not been done before in the game of golf. That is why even when he is at +9 (and the leader is at -9) people prefer to follow him in throngs because he alone makes them believe that magic is real. And they return his gift to them by believing that every shot he makes he aces. When (not if) Tiger Woods wins again, crossing Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major wins, it will be because his fans willed him to make them believe again—the possibility of human endeavor.

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