Optimism is starting every round of golf with hopes of it being one of your best rounds. For me, it would be anything under par. It would mean rebounding from mistakes that are bound to happen. My wild hopes generally start to fade after a sloppy front nine and/or blow-up holes anywhere during the round. Golf truly tests my endurance for humility…and I relentlessly choose to take the same exam. Over. And over.
The other day, I was playing at a relatively innocuous course and by all means, I should expect to shoot something in the 70’s. But I kept making the kinds of mistakes that deserve a slap in the face. My heinous playing partner gladly offered to do the honors, but I didn’t want to give him and his fleshy paws the pleasure. At one point, I started to lose the desire to grind – this is where you dig deep and try to enjoy yourself despite being on a bad date. It takes incredible imagination and effort.
I devised a game to mentally challenge myself. It would later become a physical challenge as well. If you’ve ever done more than 20 burpees in a row, you would know what it’s like to hate life. Here are the seemingly benign moves:The challenge went like this: I would do 10 burpees for every bogey and deduct 20 for every birdie. Talk about self-flagellation. I was reminded of one particular scene in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code where Silas, the Catholic monk, flogged himself for having impure thoughts. It’s a good time to point out that golf spelled backwards is flog. It’s an equally good time to question my own sanity.
I ended the round with 8 bogeys, 4 double bogeys, and only 1 birdie for a total of 140 burpees. I did them promptly when I came home. On my yoga mat. In my underwear. If I’m going to suck at this game, I might as well build up my physical endurance.
I don’t know where the lesson lies in all of this (don’t be stupid?), but I will admit that the challenge helped me rediscover a purpose during a bad round. On 18, I drained a 30-foot putt to salvage an unlikely par and it felt as though the angels came down and pardoned those 10 extra burpees. In that one moment, I felt a huge sigh of relief. I felt blessed. These are the moments that bring me back to the game.