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Monday, July 31, 2006

Six Degrees From Greatness

The theory that we are separated from anyone in the world by only 6 degrees of separation proved itself true last Friday as I played in a golf tournament at Antler Creek, the second longest golf course in the US at 8100 yards from the tips. I recognized the guy I was playing with immediately as "Tex" Stuart. I have absolutely no idea what his real first name is, but he's a crusty, old, knicker wearing, cigar smoking guy with an absolutely beautiful golf swing, so first names were irrelevant I guess.

I've played with Tex once before at another golf tournament, so all the formalities of "So... what do you do?" and "How long you been doing that?" were out of the way. As we talked he told me about how he played for the University of Minnesota. Intrigued I asked him what it was like and he shared his experiences on the team.

He told me about his first year on the team they went to Ohio State to play. The coach, knowing that Ohio State had this outstanding player that no one would be able to beat, matched Tex up against this unbeatable golfer as a sacrifice. Tex said he got beat, but felt okay about it because he shot a great game.

When he told me the Ohio State golfer's name, I realized I was only separated by one degree from Tom Weiskopf. Yet, despite playing with the guy who played with the guy who won 7 tournaments, including the British Open in 1973, we finished 8 strokes behind the leaders, who won with 16 under.

My insight on this experience is this: just because you know someone, or know someone who knows someone, doesn't make you great. Only doing something great makes you great.