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At least it was memorable

A couple of years ago, I was playing golf with friends in Bermuda. We were standing in an elevated tee box, Atlantic Ocean to our left, condominiums to our right, and a large fairway down below.

After my friends hit their typically impressive tee shots, it was my turn. I stood over the ball, visualized the ideal tee shot, and swung.

The ball went up and to the right, slicing hard and hitting the side of the condo complex with a loud thwap.

I was surprised. I have many ways to hit a golf ball poorly, and I do so quite often, but a slice is rarely my problem.

My friends chuckled, as did I. Then I placed a second ball atop the tee and swung again.

Same result. Thwap!

Now I was annoyed. One of my friends suggested I take a drop on the fairway below and spare the homeowners another surprise. I refused. The rules of golf dictate that I hit the ball from the tee, so that was what I would do. But because I was frustrated and looking for some positive mojo, I switched from my typical white Calloway ball to a black ball that a client had gifted me a couple of months before this moment.

I’d never hit a black ball before, so perhaps it would offer me better luck.

I swung again. Thwap!

And again. Thwap!

Keep in mind that I had an enormous fairway and an entire ocean where I could potentially land my ball, but instead, for four straight shots, I had managed to hit the side of a condominium complex, slicing the ball in a way I rarely do.

My friends pleaded with me to take a drop. I refused and hit another ball.


Then another. Thwap!

Then another. Thwap!

The condo residents were either not home or hiding under their beds by now, convinced that the island was under attack.

Again, my friends pleaded with me to stop this insanity. Again, I refused.

I teed up another ball – the eighth so far – and swung. The ball flew straight and true, landing on the center of the fairway, far below. An excellent tee shot by my standards.

I was lying 16, about to hit a three-wood on the fairway for 17, but I had done it. And I had followed the rules of golf in doing so.

Why do I mention this?

A few weeks ago, one of my friends was teasing me about this moment, telling his friend about my disastrous series of tee shots in Bermuda. They laughed, of course, as did I, but I also pointed out that we played golf for three days in Bermuda—a total of 63 holes.

“How many of those holes do you recall with any specificity?” I asked. “How many of those 63 holes do you actually remember playing?”

I can recall more than a dozen of them with specificity today, but mainly because:

  1. I misplayed them in some spectacular way.
  2. The view from the tee box was astounding.
  3. A conversation I had with my friends while playing the hole remains with me.
  4. The hole was designed in an interesting and unique way.

I probably remember more of those holes than my friends because that is my nature. I have a memory for my life that tends to be more robust than most.

My sister enjoys the same ability. Perhaps even more than me.

But the hole my friend remembered best was the one where I hit seven consecutive balls – five of them black – into a condominium complex.

Never shy away from your most embarrassing moments. Embrace your shameful experiences. Share those than-than-ideal experiences with the world. They are the moments that people love to hear about, and they are the ones people remember best.

They are the ones you will remember best.

There is a saying in storytelling:

You have a good time, or you have a good story.

Sometimes you have both.