You probably recall Robert Fulghum’s popular book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which was first published in 1988. Its premise was that the world would be a better place if we simply adhered to the basic rules of kindergarten, such as sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after ourselves, etc.
If I had the opportunity to suggest a sequel specifically for lawyers, its title might be All I Really Need to Know about Professionalism I Learned on the Golf Course. As golf stands out from other sports as a “gentleman’s game,” the ideals of professionalism in the practice of law are aimed at ensuring our field remains a “high calling” and not “just a business like any other,” enlisted in the service not only of the clients, but of the public good as well.
The game of golf is governed jointly by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) of St. Andrews, Scotland, and the United States Golf Association (USGA). But, as stated in the USGA’s “The Spirit of the Game” document, “Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.”