Shortly after starting one of my first white collar jobs in Florida, I realized I needed to learn how to play golf. It was the most talked about subject around the office and not being able to golf could keep you from some pretty important “elbow rubbing” opportunities. It was never my intention to rise to the ranks of Tiger or Jack or Phil, but I did need to at least understand the scoring system and the difference between a hook and a slice.
The cost of one-on-one coaching was far outside my scope, so it was with sheer delight that I ran across an ad for group lessons that were a little more reasonably priced. Now you must understand that I hadn’t touched a golf club since I was six years old, and since I was using it in a sword fight against my younger brother, I’m not sure that that even counts. Buying a bag of used clubs was next on the agenda.
“Fifty bucks for the whole bag,” the old man growled.
“Does that include the bag?” I asked, half smiling.
He gave me a look that made me think his garage sale hadn’t been very successful so far, so I reached into my pocket, handed him a fifty and lugged the bag out of his life. It had the cover on it so I wasn’t even sure what I had bought until I got the bag home. Much to my surprise, there was a whole set of clubs there. They were as mismatched as you could imagine, but I counted 14 in all and that seemed right to me.
As extra added bonus, the front pocket contained about five balls, a hand towel, some tees and a right glove that fit perfectly. The only thing I needed were the other 13 balls for my first round of golf and a few pointers from my newly hired instructor, and I’d be off and running.
It was a beautiful Florida Sunday morning when those of us in the group began arriving at the practice green. At the appointed time a sharp looking fellow showed up announcing himself as the instructor we had been waiting for. Calling us into a loose semicircle, he asked the usual questions. Has any one here golfed before? Is there anyone here who has never golfed? Believing the aforementioned sword fight didn’t count, I raised my hand for that one. After that he walked to each one of us, shook our hands and inspected our equipment.
This is where things got a little uncomfortable for me. I was standing right next to a guy who had a brand new set of Ping clubs in a brand new Ping bag that probably set him back about what I was making every three months at that time. The pro took his time examining the bag and each of the expensive clubs one at a time, commenting between the oohs and ahhs.
After that he turned his attention to me and my circa 1963 bag full of clubs. They were a pathetic sight compared to his previous students’. But, he went through the motions just the same, making sure I had at least the minimum amount of clubs, and after reassuring himself that the likelihood of one of the heads coming off one of the three drivers was minimal, he moved on to the next student.
After each of the six people in our group was acknowledged, he placed himself once more in the middle of the practice green. An assistant who had been observing from nearby met him there with his bag. Deliberately, without saying a word, he began to remove the top cover from the bag, and what was revealed when the cover was removed caused the group to start laughing. Among the items now visible, there was not one single golf club. Instead it was filled with an assortment of items that he intended to use as golf clubs in order to make a point for today’s lesson.
He asked the group to step off of the green, and then he retrieved enough golf balls from his bag for each of the seven holes. Scattering them about in no particular order, he withdrew an umbrella from his bag. With it he sank one of the balls. After that he used a cane to do the same thing again. He also used a piece of PVC pipe, a sledge hammer, a croquet mallet, a pool cue and a plastic toy Fred Flintstone golf club. To the amazement of us all, he sank every ball in its intended hole.
Now facing the group with a huge grin on his face he said, “This little demonstration was to let each of you know, quite simply, that while good equipment can certainly help, it is the control and utilization of that equipment that matters most.”
Suddenly, I felt a little smarter then the guy with the bag full of brand new Pings.
And so it goes with professionally written resumes. No matter how much time and energy and money you spend to have it prepared, if you don’t properly utilize it, it’s as worthless as a brand new set of clubs collecting dust in the corner of your garage.
I sill have that old set of clubs. I never got good enough to justify spending any more money on this hobby. But I did get good enough to win several rounds against friends of mine who would snicker every time I drug my old bag from the trunk of my car.
By Robert P. Poindexter, Career Strategist