Empathy and Golf

The Love of Golf:  

I began working at San Gabriel Country Club as a range picker and cart cleaner when I was a sophomore in high school.  To me, it was the ultimate dream job.  Being able to hang out at a golf course all day and take care of the equipment was a privilege to me.  They could have payed me nothing and it would not have mattered to me. I was in love with the game.  

As time went on, I began to develop more trust with the older employees at the course and after a few months, they offered me the opportunity to try and become a part-time caddy at the course.  To me, this was such an amazing opportunity because I would be able to make more money and also have more responsibility.  The assistant pro gave me my very own caddy bib with my name on it and told me that I would start training this Sunday morning bright and early.  I could not be more excited to be following in my dad’s footsteps. 1937335_1197119692133_4472872_n

 

Should Have Gone To Church: That following Sunday could not have been more of a wake up call for myself.  My job was to follow one of the older caddies and to watch his every single move in order to see what tasks each caddy must complete.  Pretty simple right?  Boy could I have not been more wrong.  The round started off with me getting too far ahead of the group and getting yelled at by the main caddy.  Strike one.  Then, on the next hole I accidentally jingled my keys in my pocket during one of the member’s backswings.  For those of you who are unaware, this is about as bad of a start to a caddie’s career as you could imagine.  

After this horrendous start, it only seemed to go downhill from there.  Whether it was me being sloppy, lazy, or just stupid I had no idea how to right the ship.  I was completely shook.  Hole after hole it seemed like this nightmare was only going to be getting worse.  By the time the round was over, I was completely demoralized.  It was not the start that I had in mind. Walking out of the parking lot I was pretty defeated, and genuinely considered giving up on something that I had wanted so badly for so long.

Diego to the Rescue: As I am walking out of the parking lot, one of the younger caddies yelled out at me and said that he wanted to talk.  Oh great, I thought, another one of the caddies trying to make fun of how bad I did today, just what I needed.  To give you guys some insight, Diego was one of the new and very respected caddies at San Gabriel.  He is a very friendly and outspoken guy and on this day he used his power of empathy to calm me down and make me see clear again.  

Instead of making fun of me like I had thought, Diego began talking to me about his first time he learned how to caddy.  I didn’t think it was possible to have a worst first day than I had.  Diego saw this, and chose to tell me how badly his first day went.  Instead of sympathizing with me, Diego chose to empathize.  The key difference here is how Diego was able relate his own experience to my own.  He could have told me, “hey man you’ll do better next time”, but instead he ignored the fact that I was feeling down and instead found humor in the fact that both of us had a pretty rough start.

I am very thankful for what Diego did for me that day, because not only did it make me not be so hard on myself, but he gave me hope that I could one day become a good caddy.  His power of empathy kept me going. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

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2 thoughts on “Empathy and Golf

  1. Whenever you’re just starting out at something, you’re bound to mess up something. When I was coming into NROTC as a freshman, the rest of the incoming freshmen and I were completely ripped to shreds by Marine Corps NCOs on a regular basis. To date, the upperclassmen in the Battalion who would come to us and say, “Hey, I remember when that happened to me, here’s the right way to do it so you don’t get chewed out next time” were the most influential members of the Battalion to me.

  2. Andrew,
    I resonate with this story because I know too how it feels when you have high expectations for something and fall short. A while back, a friend helped to get me a job at a restaurant in which he had been working at for some time. I came in excited, and ready to prove that I was a good hire, however my second shift was a disaster. To make a long story short, I shattered a tray of glasses in the middle of the dining room, and the manager was not pleased. Thankfully one of the bartenders reassured me that everything was okay, which ended up giving me the strength to finish out my shift and not let it affect me.

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