After wearing a coat and long johns for longer than I would like to talk about, it’s great to have a pair of shorts on and feel like there is some hope for golf in the air. The 2016 golf season is starting to get rolling, and with the warm weather and sunny days comes a newfound optimism in all golfers as they pick up the clubs again. But in today’s society we often seem to gravitate toward exact results and record keeping, and it becomes all about score. In trying to keep the game of golf fun and bring new people into it, let me help you find your “why” in terms of loving the game for more than just keeping a score.
Sure, shooting a low score is great and the end game for some, but many golfers live for the “perfect” golf shot. Okay, let’s be clear there may not be one perfect golf shot out there, but we have all hit that one ball that just jumps off of the club face and goes forever. It flies high, it flies straight (bonus!), and it feels so effortless. If this is why you play golf then more power to you! Nothing beats the feeling of a great golf shot, so if this is why you play the game in 2016, then have at it and keep trying. I have had many students come in for lessons with one goal: to hit the ball better. They literally could care less about score, only striking that little white ball better than they did yesterday. There is nothing wrong with that if it gives you happiness.
Other golfers come in with the goal of conquering a demon in their game. For some, they have the chipping “yips”, which is a bit of golf terminology that basically says they have a total fear of a particular shot. People with the yips often do other parts of the game well for awhile, then the stress of the ball ending up in their “yip zone” starts to creep into the rest of their game and that falls apart too. As a coach it is really hard to watch people struggle with the game and seem as if they are one more bad shot away from quitting altogether. When I see someone like this, I immediately know I need to put my coaching hat on tight, and show them not just technical support, but emotional support as well. Golf is hard! But even in the worst days you should be able to find some enjoyment in it, not feel it is the last place you want to be that day. So if your happiness in 2016 on the golf course will be conquering a troublesome shot or fear of a situation, come on out and let’s get it fixed. The game is too beautiful to cause you to want to leave it behind.
Happiness can also be learning the game for the benefit of a relationship. I have taught many ladies who want to take up the game so they can spend time on the golf course with their husband and their kids. As a dad myself, this hits home with me. As is often said, time is the one thing we can’t really afford to give up, so why not spend as much as you can with your family and loved ones doing something fun? My goal in teaching a wife or mother to play is to give them the basic proficiency level to get around the course, hit a few good shots, and be able to keep up with the others in the group. Many ladies are terribly afraid of holding others up because they can’t play well, but the reality is that other golfers don’t care how well you play! They all were bad golfers at some point, so they understand what you are going through, but they just want you to be able to keep up with them in terms of pace of play. So if you are a mom, dad, husband, or wife and want to learn the game to be a part of the lives of the people closest to you, don’t be afraid of it. Embrace the challenge and find a teacher who is understanding, patient, and supportive. Then get out there and never miss one minute.
Some golfers may also find happiness in 2016 by making one par. That’s right, just one par. Making a score that you have never made may be the ultimate goal for you. Imagine playing the game and making bogeys and double bogeys all the time, but then, out of nowhere, you string together a fantastic hole that shows your potential. You step to the tee, with water on the right, knowing you slice the ball that way almost all of the time; but this time, you put one right in the middle of the fairway. As you arrive at your ball you realize that the yardage left to the green happens to put your favorite club in your hand – what luck! You breathe deeply, take the club back, shut your eyes (ok, just kidding on that one), and swing. It feels incredible, and the ball flies onto the green about 40 feet from the hole. You never do that! Arriving on the green it hits you: 2 putts and you make your first ever par. Settling in over the putt you feel nervous and hopeful, and as it rolls toward the cup you barely breathe, hoping it will stay somewhere close to the hole when its journey ends. Looking up you realize it has stopped 2 feet from the hole, and with a bit of nervousness and a lot of determination, you knock that last putt into the hole for a par! You have officially found your golf happiness.
So whatever your level, look for what matters to YOU in 2016, not what others worry about. Time is all we have, so make the most of it on the golf course and answer the question of “why” you play the game, and do what makes you happy. See you on the lesson tee and out on the course.