logo october2015b

The Inner Champion - by Veronica Karaman

innerchampI have had the joy of teaching golf for many years. Every now and then, however, it is not I who teaches the game, but rather the game that teaches me. Some years ago golf taught me one unforgettable lesson: sometimes you hit the ball; sometimes the ball hits you.

It was during a U.S. Open Qualifying tournament. I had officially retired from the game fi ve years prior, thinking I was too old to play professionally. But I was never the same since. Somewhere my golf DNA kept crying out, “But you are a golfer! You have to play. Competition is in your blood.” After five years of fumbling around in the dark, I mustered up all my courage to turn on the golf light again. When I did, the first tournament I had the opportunity to play in was the U.S. Open Qualifier.

Arriving at the course, I met my caddy, Betty, and we headed out to practice. On about the third hole, I was standing on a green waiting for a golfer to hit up. “Fore!” an elderly man yelled from the fairway. I quickly ducked and covered my head. “Whack!” The descending ball thrust right into my knee. I couldn’t believe it! Decades of playing golf and this is the first time I got hit by a ball. Betty quickly helped me get into the cart as my knee began to swell. “I am not going to let this stop me!” I blurted out in a desperate attempt to shield off any threatening spirit of defeat. “I have come a long way, and I am going to play in this tournament, even if I have to crawl to the first tee!” “Let’s just get you some ice,” Betty responded. Back at the clubhouse, I soaked my knee and then headed back to my hotel to rest.

That night Betty called. “I was so impressed by your strong spirit today.” “You were?” I inquired surprisingly. “Why?” “Because I would have buckled under the hit. But you refused to be defeated, even by something that hurt you. You are such a trooper.” I was amazed at her comment, and thankful, too, because the next day I did not qualify for the U.S. Open. There was still victory in store for me, however, which I never would have known if the golf ball didn’t hit me.

Sometimes the victory appears when you hit the ball and it lands in the hole. This time, however, I discovered victory in the ball hitting me, revealing my inner champion spirit. The very thing that influenced me to quit golf professionally was a defeated spirit. What a thrill it was for me to realize that I now had a strong spirit. It was a victory that I could truly treasure, despite my score.

The lesson of the golf ball hit even touched Betty as I was able to encourage her in areas where she needed to grow strong in her spirit. What I learned from this experience was that golf is so much bigger than shooting a score. It is a reflector of life—and on that course, I discovered an inner win that even transcended securing a bid for the U.S. Open. Sometimes you hit the ball, and sometimes the ball hits you. When it does, don’t look at the outward result. Look at what the process produced within. In every loss there is a gain, on the golf course or on the course of life. If you will just get still, a moment of reflection will reveal your real win—a new inner strength. You will arise from defeat and advance to victory!

Veronica Karaman is a golf professional, performance coach, and motivational speaker. Contact her for individual/ corporate programs and speaking engagements at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it...

sandhillssurvey southernpines
Traditions Magazine, P.O. Box 1112 • Pinehurst, NC 28370 • Phone:843.251.6094 •This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.