Pursuits in Life and Golf

Pursuits in life fuel our existence. Proven, those that thrive aptly challenge themselves breaking new barriers in the process. This post is a child of a self decreed challenge. Call it a product of the game of “double dog dare you” that continually manifest and thus this blog lives. The self talk doesn’t just happen on the golf course, the conversation is a life long healthy dialogue with that little voice inside. I only call it an “issue” if you verbalize the inner voice in public…you know out loud. As my daughter would say, that’s just creepy and weird. How does this all pertain to the blog? Well, follow along, I’ll explain.

The problem with golf or rather the human playing golf, is the insane pursuit of perfection. No matter what we do, perfection on this plane can never be obtained. Absolute perfection is simply a fleeting and unfulfilling undertaking, yet we doggedly strive for the unattainable. Why then as players do we continually critique our imperfections? The negative chatter, even framed in a positive light over time deflates the very confidence needed to perform at our highest capabilities. Recently, I’ve noticed I have developed a bad habit of adding value to an otherwise innocuous miss. It’s one shot gone awry, let’s move on and don’t compound the error. Maybe some of those Bob Rotella books actually permeated the fortress and the little guy in the shadows has grown tired of all the “crying” over what amounts to spilled milk. I’ve taken notice making a careful and concerted effort to shut down the naysayer within. There are times during a round a temporary schizophrenia arises and there almost seems to be a chorus of differing voices adding to the debilitating din. Again, cluttering the pursuit and denying the next barrier break. The change is coming.

We subconsciously suffocate the coming opportunity that is the next shot when we debase the merits of the shot already hit. I’ve caught myself, now armed with this new awareness, still holding a grudge about a particular shot 3 holes ago. The “what ifs” echo, gnashing of the teeth as I continue the walk…”I should be 2 under right now, instead of 1 over”…snuffing out the future potential. Ugh!!!!, for that matter, insert your favorite curse. The light comes on just in time. Recognition enables me to move on. Learning a new skill is so rewarding when you can see progress. My next full round out I shot a 71 trying my best to stay in the “now” and more importantly shutting down the need to add value to any miscue. Simply, I’m learning to shut up and play or play stupid as they say. Was it a good day? Um, yes, I’d say it was. I had 5 birdies in the round and a bunch of other good looks. Converted some huge par putts to keep the mojo going and a couple of terrific up and downs. We started off at 6:45 in the morning. I birdied the first from about 12 feet which gave me some confidence. The round turned for me between the second and third hole. The par 5 2nd, I was just short reaching it in 2, made a good up attempt for eagle leaving about a 3 footer for birdie just past the hole. Missing that putt rattled me a bit. It wasn’t the miss as much as it was such a poor putt. That voice rose up demeaning the feeble attempt. The tee shot on the 3rd was dreadful. I hit it short and right leaving myself 186 yards to a tucked pin on the left side of the green. This hole is the #2 handicap for a reason, it sucks. I hit a 6 iron to 8 feet using the slope in the middle of the green to carry the ball down to the hole. Might have been one of the best shots I’ve ever hit. Made the putt, we are 2 under now. The 4th hole, I cover a 6 iron from 182 to the par 3, how it didn’t hit the pin, I don’t know. Just over the flag, my pitch mark a foot beyond the hole. Left with a 5 footer downhill….which I miss. Right there, the round could go south, but I didn’t let it because I stayed positive. I made a good putt that didn’t find the hole. A very positive outlook that carried me on. Trying to butcher the 5th hole, I left myself with 15 feet downhill for par and I make the putt. If I was in the bag or rather still in the past, I wouldn’t make that putt, I would still be brooding about 2 and 4 and how I wasn’t 4 under par…..or perfect! The round in itself was a battle. I will admit, I did crack a bit on both 9 and 18. I had 128 yards into both of them which is a yardage I played to and love. It’s like an automatic full pitching wedge. I pushed both of them thinking about where I was score wise. On 18, I was thinking of shooting a 69 and breaking down another barrier. In other words, I blinked and didn’t stay in the moment.

After the round I wasn’t quite yet introspective about how I played. I might have said, “that was a bad 71” 50 times. In my mind, it could have been better. Again, adding negative value to something I can do nothing about.The voice I had rendered useless had been reborn and it kept saying “that should have been better”. Who broods over a 71 anyway? Now I look at it a little differently. The next day I shot 80 on a different course. That bastard of an inner voice was ever present, I had neglected to shut him down from the beginning. We will continue to spar, that I am certain of, but he will need to lose to breakthrough. The more and more I play with better players, it’s the mental game that impresses me the most. Not the swings, the short games, or even the deadly accurate clutch putting, it’s the way they go about it. It’s a game and if you address it as such, your potential is given the opportunity to be realized. Some of these guys have swings only a mother can love, yet they are single digit assassins that will happily take your money….smiling and joking all the way down the fairway. That’s the next step in the evolution of my game. The next barrier will fall soon enough.

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