Golf is played one stroke at a time. But it took me many years to realize it.
- Bobby Jones
The influence of Bobby Jones on golf, Augusta and the Masters Tournament remains three decades after his death.
His lesson, which applies to so many of life's endeavors, is simple: It not only matters how you do but also how you do it. Honor, grace, dignity and sportsmanship matter.
One could almost say most everything you need to know in life, you could learn from Bobby Jones.
Here are some examples gleaned from his comments and writings.
On luck: "I have found out this much: In the long run it seems to play no favorites - if the run is long enough."
Don't hesitate when the course of action is clear: "Once a swing is under way, the only thing I can think of is hitting the ball. To attempt to think of anything else is the most certain method of courting absolute ruin."
Forget what might have been: "There are always a number of strokes in a round that you might have dropped ... Don't think so much about them."
Know when to relax: "Years ago I discovered that the best preparation for a big tournament, for me, was as much rest as I could acquire."
On keeping standards: "Old Man Par, the imperturbable economist! Make a friend and a constant foe of him, and the other boys won't be quite so rough on you."
When in trouble, get out of it: "As a general proposition I fancy it might be laid down that the main object of a trouble shot in golf is to get out of trouble. This conclusion is not so obvious as it first may appear."
Know what to do: "I can't help the opinion that it is judgment more than mechanical execution that counts, when you're in trouble."
Master the little things: "Those little shots from just off the green - they're the least spectacular in golf, I suppose, and the greatest stroke-savers, if they are working for you."
Patience: "Old Man Par is a patient soul, who never shoots a birdie and never incurs a buzzard ... and if you travel the long route with him, you must be patient, too. The number of years required to hammer it into me is a sorry commentary on my native intelligence."
On destiny: "... It looks more and more as if this game is all in the book before a ball is hit; and you merely go through a championship tournament as you were rehearsed to go through it, perhaps a million years before."
On advice: "I hope I may be able to follow it, occasionally."
Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.