Over the past seven days, the PGA and its patrons descended upon Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina. For the first time in more than forty years, the sleepy coastal town of Wilmington played host to a PGA event—The Wells Fargo Championship. And I must say, it was an honor to see my hometown in the national spotlight for something other than Jim Cantore’s latest hurricane update.
As Sunday’s dust settled, I think both the professional golf tour and a national audience will attest, Wilmington did not disappoint. It was a remarkable week that brought this no-longer-hidden community into focus and more than thirty thousand visitors to the Port City.
As a father to three sons, I found it an opportunistic time for them to experience the sights and sounds of a professional golf event. On Friday, I took my five-year-old identical twin sons, Wyatt and Greyson, and I enjoyed the final round with my soon-to-be seven-year old, Matthew.
But as the crowds hustled from tee to green and as patrons cheered on their favorite professional, I learned a few life lessons that I wanted to share.
Sometimes the Cheap Seats are the Best Seats
Scattered throughout the course were swank corporate boxes and private chateaus. As I walked the fairways with my sons, I looked up at the elevated viewing platforms and felt a bit jealous that I wasn’t experiencing the event in luxury. The well-dressed, beautiful people sipped complimentary beverages as I trudged through the fanfare with small children. Their decorated lanyards gave them access to private areas restricted to the rest of us.
There was a part of me that wished I was in their position. How nice would it be to sit in the shade with hand-and-foot service? But I soon realized the blessing of perspective.
During one of the early rounds, as we walked with the players, Vijay Singh and Vaughan Taylor tossed one of their balls our way. My twins’ faces lit up, but they were a little confused. They looked at me and said, “Dad, why’d he throw us a ball?” I explained that it was a very special moment and that this would be a keepsake for their collection. Later in the day, we were stopped by a local news station and our twins were featured in this awesome video.
And finally, on Friday, Matthew, got a fist bump from the number one golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson.
As I reflect on our time at the tournament, maybe the cheap seats are the best seats.
Too often, we get caught up in the luxury of private boxes and corporate perks— there’s always someone with “better seats”. If we’re not careful, we spend so much time envying someone else’s seat that we forget to enjoy our own. This week reminded me that private boxes and better seats don’t make life more enjoyable. The joys of life are right in front of us—let’s not miss them because we’re focused on someone else’s seat.
The Turtles Don’t Care
During the final round, the top golfers in the world were competing for the $7.5 million dollar purse. That’s a lot of money. But as we watched, I couldn’t help but notice the turtles.
Scattered across the course were numerous water hazards where turtles would gather at the shore to bathe in the southeastern North Carolina sun. In addition, birds flew overhead against the gorgeous Carolina blue backdrop. As fans raced from shot to shot, the birds and the turtles were unfazed by the drama. Thousands of people flocked to and fro, clamoring over these famous professionals. But not the turtles, the turtles didn’t move.
I’m all for celebrating the talents of professional athletes, but I wonder if the turtles don’t have it figured out? While we’re busy subtly idolizing sports stars and million dollar purses, the turtles are busy enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and another day in the sunshine.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that performance and million-dollar purses create a lot of pressure. If we’re not careful, pressure causes us to hurry around in a busy rush and it robs us of rest. This isn’t an outcry against hard work or persistence, it’s a gentle reminder that the tortoise beat the hare.
Spend More Time With Your Kids
It was no easy feat to lug three kids under the age of seven around a professional golf event. In fact, it was exhausting. But this event is something they will remember for years to come. And that goes for me as well.
At one point in the final round, my son, Matthew, ran up from behind and grabbed hold of my left hand. He squeezed his fingers between mine as we walked along the seventeenth fairway. The same happened on Friday with my twins. Those hand-in-hand moments with my boys were perfect. There will come a day when my boys won’t hold my hand. But this week, they did. And I treasured every second of it.
Don’t miss these moments with your kids. They’re short-lived. Take more time off and do the things that you love. Pretty soon, you’ll look back and realize that these moments are what make life rich.
To the PGA: thanks for the unbelievable golf and incredible memories. We hope you’ll come back soon. And to my fellow patrons: don’t forget to be grateful, slow down, and spend time with your kids.