How to Play Driveable Par 4s*

* Or, how our approach to risk changes as our lives change.

A good friend of mine is an avid golfer. He’s also a father, a partner, a son, a brother, a (very successful) salesperson and a mayor (at a certain Starbucks, at least).

I’m writing this for him, in particular, but also for anyone in Midlife who thinks about managing risk.

Please indulge me as a I talk about golf for a bit (I promise I’ll make it relevant at the end) (and it will definitely get my friend’s attention).

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Most golf courses have a “driveable par four.”

A hole where, with a perfectly, and well, hit Driver the ball will land on the green offering a chance at an Eagle (2), and at worst a Birdie (3).

Each golfer is faced with a huge strategic choice on the tee box: hit an iron off the tee, leaving one with a full-wedge shot in, with a solid chance at Birdie.

Or, hit Driver, very, very straight and long, but not too long, and putt for Eagle.

Problem with this is, as pro golfers show us (time and again) it’s one thing to hit 30-yard-wide fairway with Driver and a whole other thing to hit a 20-yard-wide green.

The thing about driveable pars 4s is that, strategically, the worst thing you can do is hit Driver off the tee. Much better to hit an iron off the tee, leaving a full wedge. Or perhaps, 5-wood, leaving a partial wedge.

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I haven’t played golf in a while, but when I did I often played a course with a 305 yard Par 4.

It’s eminently driveable.

I probably played that hole 50 times.

I hit Driver off the tee maybe 10 times.

I hit the green once.

I three-putted for Par.

Did I ever Birdie the hole?

Absolutely. Probably five times.

How? Usually, when I hit my 3-wood about 240 and hit a cut-down PW close.

[Note: I wasn’t a great golfer, but I hit every club in my bag perfectly, at least once – and that’ll keep you coming back 😉 ]

What’s the point?

The more I played that hole, the more I realized that playing it smart was (way) more important than bombing a drive off the tee.

I was willing to accept that I wanted my best shot at Birdie, not a infinitesimally tiny shot at Eagle.

So it is with life.

*   *   *

As we get older we begin to realize that not going for broke, every time – or even most any of time – is not a sign of weakness or fear, but a realization that life is about more than just me.

We play it smart – but not small – because we care about more than just ourselves. We have “people,” and we love them and we protect them and they are a part of the decisions we make.

We are so over any macho shit and how we look to our playing-partners/friends/co-workers and focus on the outcome we want.

We’re focused on sustainable, authentic results.

And we wouldn’t change a thing (about that).

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