For Ryan Gagerman, golf isn’t just golf. It’s a stage on which the themes of life in recovery play themselves out. To Ryan and his wife Ali, the parallels became clear over the course of their long involvement with Beit T’Shuvah. Ryan’s thoughts on golf and recovery can be distilled into five core tenets:
1. Telling on yourself. Golf is the only sport where you alone are accountable for your actions. By signing your scorecard, you attest to your own score, including penalties. Similarly, in recovery, the onus is on you to be honest and accountable.
2. Getting back on the horse. In golf, if you have a bad hole, you need to be quick to forgive yourself; otherwise, remorse will drag down the rest of your game. Indeed, when you return successfully from a bad hole, you are said to have recovered well. In recovery from alcohol and drugs, dwelling on the past doesn’t help.
3. Mulligan! In golf and in life, everyone deserves a do-over. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay a penalty for your actions, but it also doesn’t mean that the mistake has to haunt you for the rest of your life, or in the case of golf, the rest of your game.
4. Going it alone, together. Golf is a solitary activity, but that doesn’t mean you play alone, without support or camaraderie. Playing golf, like living in sobriety, is more fun when you move through the course with people you like.
5. Anyone can get it. Last, golf can be played by all ages and socioeconomic groups, much like the way addiction can affect anyone, anywhere.
Ryan has had plenty of time to consider these parallels. Since he can remember, Warren and Elaine Breslow were friends of the family, and Ryan’s father was an early member of Beit T’Shuvah’s board of directors. When Elaine passed, Ryan, Ali and their children Haley and Benjamin began coming for Friday night services both to honor Elaine and to support Warren, and they have stayed close ever since. Beit T’Shuvah also planted the seed of hope and change that helped Ryan’s brother-in-law to move into recovery; he recently celebrated two years sober. And the Gagerman family celebrated another birthday here. On Benjamin’s sixth birthday, Rabbi Mark presented the costume-clad young man with a cake during Friday night services. “I hope this is the last cake Benjamin takes here,” Ryan jokes.
Golf, like life, calls for integrity and good sportsmanship. You will find these qualities in spades on Monday at the Beit T’Shuvah Open golf tournament. Ryan will be there, playing golf, giving back to Beit T’Shuvah and honoring the memory of Elaine Breslow.
The BTS Open will be held Monday, June 19 2018 at El Caballero Country Club,18300 Tarzana Drive, Tarzana, CA 91356, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
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