Warning: Taking Up General Aviation can hurt Your Golf Game

By Travis H. Brown
I knew it was a likely trade when I started flight lessons nearly a decade ago. As my total time in flight increased, the free time available for my golf swing shortened. I will be the first to acknowledge that entry into my mid-life isn’t making natural athleticism any easier.

In my entrepreneurship columns, I often quote how experts have proven that you need an average of 10,000 committed hours of practice to master any skill or profession. As a professional lobbyist, I am invited to scramble more than a breakfast chef. However, I find that such times are not very productive to real advances in the little steps necessary to improve your handicap.

Sometimes on the golf course with clients or corporate colleagues a plane buzzes by and I spur up a conversation about flying. For anyone suffering on my team, my contributions to eagles and birdies are usually limited. However, if that same crew has a chance to join me elsewhere by flight, I find that they are usually more appreciative of how I have spent my past years of training and weekly flights.

During most weeks, any leisure time is very limited such that I rarely swing a club without a client or employee present. That makes the excuses a bit easier. However, due to more general aviation travel shortening the distance between my shanks and stellar courses, golf still taunts me. Just about the time that I want to banish myself from another green, I will redeem myself amidst a glorified setting.

For me, effective golf seems to share some similar philosophies as safe flying in private aviation.

First, a clear mind with a relaxed body allows for better form.  A relaxed swing is just like a smooth yet sturdy hand on the yoke, even among low ceilings or heavy rains.

Second, intense focus on the task should alienate you among your non-critical surroundings. A great tee-off amongst a group works best if you tune out your environment. The same is true in a cockpit that can easily get distracted by choppy radios, nervous passengers, or bad weather.

Third, golf’s about the journey, not the destination. Playing eighteen holes amongst friends where it’s not too fast, nor too slow is a blessing on a fair weather day. The same is true about a nice day of flying – an aviator with his heart still in the air is ready to go again – anytime, anywhere.

So, the next time you hear a plane cruise over your summer course, thank a private pilot for making someone else’s golf experience more enjoyable.