They say love happens when you least expect it. I call bullshit because I haven’t expected it for many years and it’s still as hidden as the loch ness monster. I will say that a good round of golf is possible when you don’t expect it at all. Ever since setting my crazy sights on breaking par, I made attempts at breaking down my swing…only to be blinded by the many nuances of the swing – the grip, grip pressure, takeaway, swing plane, downswing, shoulder rotation, weight transfer, cocked wrist, tucked elbow, bent knees, open hips, shoot-me-dead-already. I sought lessons from my trusted teaching pro friend. I clocked countless hours at the range and on the course…trying to “embrace change” without wrapping my irons around a tree or better yet, my own neck. There were moments when I felt everything connecting beautifully and I would flush some amazing shots but then I would promptly produce some hideous stuff. My game played like Beauty & the Beast without the spell breaking and the beast turning back into a handsome prince. I felt cursed.
I found myself welcoming a break from golf. So when a good friend suggested a road trip through Utah, I was on board. We spent a week bouncing around three National Parks: Zion, Bryce, and Arches. We hiked everyday and I finally had the chance to break into my camping gear. So much fun! Words can’t describe how majestic and sometimes scary nature can be. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I took nearly two thousand pictures and they didn’t come close to describing the beauty. It was a crazy awesome experience and I came back wanting to enjoy golf again. I had no desire to “work” on my game this time. I just wanted to PLAY.
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of getting out with two teaching professionals. Needless to say, I was nervous about showcasing my ugly game. The only thing I felt confident about was my driver so when I hooked the very first shot into the trees, I had this overwhelming fear that my worst game was about to show up. I marked a D minus on the scorecard and went on to save an unlikely par. Same thing happened on the second and third hole. Fortunately my putter was performing like a pro! Before long, I was standing on the 9th tee and realizing that I’m still even par despite logging four D minuses and only hitting one fairway. I felt free to swing big on nine and found myself one under par at the turn. Confidence was finally starting to build and I nearly birdied the next hole to go two under. Crazy. I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on…but it kept going on. I went back to even after 12 and the thought of breaking par definitely crossed my mind. As soon as I thought about it, however, I skimmed a drive that went a mere 40 yards. I wanted to laugh because this is the kind of mind fuck that happens in this game and when it happens, you just have to chalk it up to being a golf thing. Nothing more. I was able to control the damage to only one shot. Another bogey on 16 was buoyed by a birdie on 18. When the final putt went down, I felt so much relief and joy for posting a one over round. I didn’t achieve my goal that day but I got close enough to feel hope restored.
In that moment, I thought of Leo Burnett for saying, “When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.” I choose to keep reaching!