“Maybe you can go over and talk to the mother and son ahead of us,” the golfer called out to me as I started to drive the golf cart away from the couple, who are regulars on the course and not used to waiting for others. “They’re playing really slow.”
“No problem,” I said. “I’ll ask them. I’m sure they’ll be OK with it.” As etiquette dictates on the golf course, slower players generally allow faster golfers to play through. This is going through my head as I pull up to the mother, and together, we watch her ball careen across the green, before bouncing onto the rough on the other side. I smile before asking her if she doesn’t mind letting the twosome behind them play through on the next hole.
“You know what?” the mother says, watching her son putt. “We were planning on letting them play through because they’re pushing us. My son and I were playing just fine until this hole. But yes, we’ll let them play through.”
I thanked the mother for her graciousness, and went on my way. It wasn’t until an hour later, as I spotted the mother and son walking off the ninth green, that I thought about the favor I asked of them. “How’d you do,” I asked, expecting an answer falling somewhere in between We had a great round and I just couldn’t hit a ball straight today.
But this mother’s answer was quite different. She stopped and put her hand on her son’s shoulder. “You know,” she said. “This has been a pretty rough day for us.”
“Our dog died today,” the boy added, bowing his head.
“It’s just been a hard day for us,” the mother sighed, packing up their clubs.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “As a pet owner, I know how heart-wrenching that is. Would you like to go another round … on us?”
“No, but thank you,” the mother said, with a slight smile I hadn’t seen until that moment.
As they walked off the course, I thought about the day they must have had and how we all contribute to making someone’s day worse or better. Let’s strive for better.