Dustin Johnson makes a winning putt, and all the world knows about it. The same goes for Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Their exploits are shown on television on a weekly basis, and with our 24/7 coverage of golf on Golf Channel and other media outlets, their victories are known far and wide.
But what about the “quiet victories” that are known only to their participants? These victories may involve nothing more than playing for pride, all the way to thousands of dollars being wagered on the outcome. No matter how large or small, though, these quiet victories remain outside the realm of public knowledge, even though they occur thousands of times each day.
There are approximately 15,000 golf courses in the United States, and during peak season there are about 1.5 million people playing golf daily. If you consider that perhaps 10 percent of these people have an average wager of, say, $10 on the line, that comes to over $10 million that changes hands every seven days – more than a typical professional golf purse for that week! Not to mention the countless smaller events that take place, such as state opens, mini-tour events and amateur tournaments that offer merchandise certificates. It is safe to say that the amount of money that is won on the golf course through these means dwarfs what the big boys are playing for each week.
But money isn’t the only driving force in competitive golf. The pride of winning a drink off your buddy, or even just for bragging rights, happens every day that the game is being played. USGTF president Geoff Bryant is no stranger to the competitive aspect of golf with his friends, but mainly it’s just for fun. He recently came to the final hole at his home course of Yarmouth Links in Nova Scotia tied with a friend who will remain nameless, but for purposes of this article we will call him “Charlie Whitney.” Charlie hit his approach to the final hole to four feet while Geoff was sitting at 40 feet, apparently a sure victory for Charlie. However, Geoff holed his 40-footer which left Charlie completely stunned, to the point that his four-footer never hit the hole.
Geoff’s quiet victory did not make the papers, nor did he receive international acclaim for it, but the satisfaction of coming out on top, especially when it was completely unexpected, is part of the allure of golf for many. And the prospect of quiet victories of our participants in USGTF regional, national and international events is a driving force for many who show up for these events every year.
But winning a first-place prize isn’t the only victory that can be had in golf competitions. Merely playing in such events can be a victory, as Tiger Woods has expressed in his comeback year of 2018.There might also be a USGTF member who had to overcome some sort of adversity in order to play in the United States Golf Teachers Cup. Others might consider it a victory if they scored a personal best in a tournament or even in a casual round of golf.
Then there are victories that aren’t score-related. A golfer, after receiving a lesson from a USGTF professional, might find that his slice is no longer there. That’s a victory, not only for that golfer, but for the teacher who helped him. Another golfer might find that she no longer three-putts with regularity after another lesson, again a victory for both golfer and teacher. There are also quiet non-golf victories that can be had, such as business deals that are sealed during a round. Or maybe getting someone out to the course so that person forgets about his troubles for a few hours.
All of these quiet victories happen on a daily basis, and the common denominator is the game of golf. It’s one of the many reasons that millions of people believe that golf is the greatest game ever invented. When someone is reveling in their personal quiet victory, it’s hard to argue otherwise.