Regrettable Silence

September 1, 2012 4:09 pm Published by

An occasional benefit of my job is that I get to attend golf tournaments while I ought to be working. The golfing industry, and many business people, have made a valiant attempt to link golf with work by helping the addicted convince themselves that there is some business benefit to five hours of doing nothing. If anything, watching grown adults waste five hours of daylight should convince the undecided not to do business with us. The notion of doing business on the golf course seems to me like proof that we can justify anything if we try hard enough. Nonetheless, it can be a perfectly enjoyable waste of time that I admit on occasion, can have some character revealing benefits.

Years ago I was invited to fill in as a fourth with a group at a charity golf tournament out of town. The extent of my relationship with the rest of the group was limited to that I was familiar with them by reputation within my industry. Like most such tournaments the format on this day was a scramble. In summation this means that four golfers of limited ability each hit a ball, and the whole group advances to the best shot and repeats the process until the ball is in the hole. That this process can take 5 or 6 hours is testament to the skill level or rather lack thereof of the participants. It is however, a great way for golfers of average ability to have fun and score better than they would on their own. In any group there is usually one of the four that makes a reasonably good shot on any given attempt. After all, even a monkey on a typewriter will type a word accidentally once in a while (to which I am living proof). On the occasion when none of the group make a good shot, you count the stroke and hit again. And so it was that all four of us missed what looked like an easy 3 foot putt. One member of our group happily said ‘oh I should have made that – give us a three’. Yes I thought to myself, you should have made it, and I should have made it- but we didn’t. Unfortunately after determining that he wasn’t kidding, my peer had relegated himself to that area within my mental rolodex where I stick people I don’t trust. Regrettably, I didn’t confront him on it. The scorecard was in my hands so I simply ignored him and entered the correct score. Yet it always nagged at me that I didn’t make my objection to the attempted cheating clear.

    The episode came to mind recently when I read a Napoleon quote: “the world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.” While this quote is a little over dramatic for the circumstance, nonetheless it reminded me that I had responded to a lie not by verbalizing my objection, but by silence.The games we play for entertainment are really small matters. Yet as Gamaliel Bradford was quoted as saying: ‘In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.”Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann

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