2018 arrived right on schedule and, ready or not, we all have another 365 days stretching before us. We feel we pretty well know what they will be like: our daily jobs or routines, our usual interaction with family and friends, get our annual checkups, pay bills and taxes and take a vacation or two. Sounds predictable and safe doesn’t it? But in reality, we actually have no idea or control over what lies ahead of us this year.

It’s like playing golf. You just tee up and swing away with faith and hope that the ball will sail straight and true down the fairway and you will have a great game and break par. As any golfer can tell you, that ain’t always the way the golf ball bounces.

Now let me say right up front, I am not a golfer. Never have been and never will be. Therefore, what I write comes from observation and not first-hand experience. But, through the years I have helped at a lot of golf tournaments and known and watched a lot of golfers, both male and female. I’ve found that golfers range everywhere from the social to the obsessive.

The social players are those who enjoy playing golf for the fellowship of being with friends or business acquaintances. The last group is composed of those die-hards who have been known to hop out of the car on the way to their own wedding to play a quick round “because the golf course is right on the way.”

So, like golfers, none of us really knows what is out in front of us. We’re all like a golfer playing a course for the first time—we don’t know exactly what’s coming or what to expect. Yes, we’re hoping that, like the golf ball, our lives, will fly straight and true and land on the green exactly where we want it and we can score an eagle on the hole. But many an obstacle lies between the tee box and the green: roughs, sand traps, water obstacles, and our own human missteps.

We get frustrated and angry when things don’t go as planned. We hook into the woods and have to take a penalty stroke and play a new ball. We muff an easy putt. We swear we’re never going to play again. And some don’t. But for the most part, you’ll find the golfer back out there the next day or next weekend, working to overcome the weak parts of their game: working on the swing to overcome a hook or a slice; keeping a relaxed stance, your head down and eye on the ball. One bad hole doesn’t mean the entire game is over—there are still eight more out there to play and a lot of different courses yet to discover.

Sound familiar? It’s the same advice you’ve heard all of your life. Learn the basics so well they are instinctive, pay attention to the details, stay focused, work constantly to improve, don’t get stagnant; always look for new challenges.

It’s Life 101 and we’re given it broken into yearly components of 365 days each, so it’s broken up and we’ll have something to gauge it by. If life just stretched out there with no divisions (weeks, months, years, decades, etc.) but just rolled on day after day, it would become tiresome and overwhelming.

We humans need diversion. We need challenges. We need yardsticks and goals. We need wins and accomplishments. We need to know we can always improve, change, evolve, become more than what we are today. We need calendars to record our life’s highlights and losses, plans, commitments, resolutions for improvement and to spur us on.

Meanwhile, all golfers need are a set of clubs, a pack of balls, a scorecard and a golf course and they’re good to go with a robust shout of “Fore!” down the fairway of life.

Congratulations to Cameron and Chloe (Robinson) Tripp who started their life journey together last Saturday, Dec. 30. The couple were married at the First Baptist Church of Farmington with Chloe’s grandfather, Charles Henson, conducting the service. Chloe is the daughter of John and Shawnna Robinson (who is now the very exhausted editor of the Press) of Farmington, and Cameron the son of Chris and Carrie Tripp.

Cruising rather than chattering…Larry and Priscilla Kropp and their large and happy family all enjoyed a Christmas cruise to Cozumel and Progresso in western Caribbean rather than shivering and shaking here in frigid Missouri!

My vote for the winner of the “You’ve Got to Be Kidding” event of 2018 was the New Year’s Day “Annual Freeze Your Golf Balls Invitational” attended by a few fearless and frozen golfers at the St. Francois Country Club Golf Course. Names have been withheld to protect the insane. Way to go guys!

To all, best wishes for a much warmer and pleasant 2018 with good health, good fortune and peace throughout the year.

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