Five Years of anything but khakis ®️: Entry # 246

“Regret is way worse than losing, and people are choosing to live with regret because they don’t want to take the chance to do something because they might lose in front of others.”- GaryVee

Getting a good understanding of what you want out of life is the key piece of the puzzle.

To get that understanding, you might have to try hundreds of new things. Even as an adult. Especially as an adult.

Over the past three years, I estimate that I’ve left a half million dollars on the table. But I live relatively stress free and do what I want every day.

Long term patience and short term action are the answers.

Short term impatience and long term inaction are the killers.

In Coastal Mississippi, rules are merely suggestions, and freedom reigns supreme, which I love.

Within the past five years, I’ve really gotten a good understanding of myself as an individual human being. As a father, I am on it. As a traditional partner, I’m a handful.

Kids are love. When I look at my kids, I just feel love.

I hope Christy and the kids boat, fish, and swim every day this summer. That’s the whole point of being here.

The most complex thing along the journey has been health insurance. What a cluster.

Every time I accomplish something that I didn’t think was possible, I realize that at that moment, I am still nowhere near my potential.

I’ve lost so much over the last five years, that losing doesn’t scare me. All of that losing made me so much better.

Eventually, I am going to win, and it’s going to be huge.

Getting good at golf, running marathons, and raising small children are tossups for the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

My arthritis is real, but I just find a way. It’s my superpower.

I’m sore. Very sore. Extremely sore.

I am not a big fan of small talk or excuses.

The process of getting really good at something is intense. You make lots of sacrifices, but so do the people around you. None of that goes unnoticed.

Travel is the best. It really is. My soul craves a unique trip about every six weeks. I feel like I now have friends and friendly acquaintances everywhere.

If the world doesn’t offer what you want, create it yourself.

Fear of other people’s judgement has to be the number one killer of dreams. That, and addiction to the mighty dollar.

Moms are superheroes. I repeat.

I try to take two days completely off each week now. Of the other five days, I bust it for three and then just work the other two.

Having said that, if you are trying to build something (a company, brand, lifestyle, etc.), it’s an all day, every day thing.

abk is always on my mind.

You must enjoy the grind and process of what you do. Otherwise, it will be difficult to fulfill your potential because the grind will simply wear you out.

Coulda shoulda woulda. Either you let it happen, make it happen, or it ain’t gonna happen.

I don’t mind asking for help. I don’t mind people offering suggestions. But I do not like being told what to do.

There is a massive difference between making a living, living, and living life to the fullest.

Most problems really aren’t problems.

I make mistakes all of the time. It’s a huge part of coloring outside the lines.

Surround yourself with negativity and the world becomes a cynical place. Surround yourself with positivity and it becomes a pretty cool adventure.

I try to give people a different perspective on life. That’s my purpose. It may be the only time they ever see or hear something different.

I’m known as the guy down here who travels everywhere and plays golf all the time. That’s reasonably accurate.

It’s me vs. me and you vs. you. Simple as that.

Many people have seen only one way to live. I’ve observed and experienced hundreds of ways now. The abk lifestyle takes cues from my favorites.

At the end of the day, am I going to be a specialist in golf or on taking the journey? I prefer the latter.

Golf is now my job. I guess jet skiing is a hobby.

I’ve got a couple of tournaments over the summer then I want to take my son to Detroit.

I miss autumn leaves. We don’t have that down here. So every autumn, there will be a family fall leaf viewing trip.

Don’t waste my time, because I sure as hell won’t waste yours.

I have a hard time with mediocrity.

I’ve basically had to go back to square one to learn everything about the game of golf. It’s been worth it.

I think it’s important to have fresh perspectives from an outsider.

I turn forty on Wednesday, and I play outside every single day. That feels like success to me.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Time to Exhale: (Just Over) A Month of Absolute Madness

“We must remember that the purpose of the abk lifestyle is to live every day like it’s my 40th birthday. So that on my actual 40th birthday, it’s irrelevant if we go to Vegas or eat sandwiches at the house.”-abk

The story begins on Saturday night April 2 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and ends on Monday afternoon May 9 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

When it became apparent that my Duke Blue Devils would be playing the hated UNC Tarheels in the Final Four in New Orleans on a Saturday night in early April, my juices started flowing.

And they didn’t stop flowing until I tapped in for par on the last hole at the world famous Pinehurst # 2, one of the best (and hardest) golf courses on Planet Earth.

After that five hour walk, the ten hour drive down, and the previous five weeks, I finally took a breath.

After arriving home in the wee hours following that electric Saturday night, soon after, I watched my son make his first real birdie on the golf course.

Soon after, my brother and his family arrived in town from Raleigh.

Soon after, we celebrated my little daughter turning seven months old.

Soon after, one of my best friends for my whole life and his family arrived in town from just outside of Charlotte.

Soon after, I headed over to Houma, Louisiana to play in a tournament at Ellendale Country Club on a picture perfect day for golf.

Soon after, we all buckled in as we prepared to host the Boys High School State Championship, a monumental, all hands on deck task that was extremely exhausting, but a wonderful experience.

Soon after, I joined a smattering of family and friends back in Charlotte for my first Charlotte FC soccer game in person.

Soon after, we swung by my son’s previous favorite restaurant to grab pizza and pasta before the kids jumped in my sister’s freezing cold pool.

Soon after, we celebrated my mom’s retirement after 25 years as church organist as she played a couple of bangers before finally hanging it up.

Soon after, we celebrated Christy, Suz, my mom, and all the moms with a delicious steak cookout at my childhood home.

Soon after, my mom and I snuck out to a local golf course, flying through 18 holes with the weather unseasonably cold and most guys banned from playing on Mother’s Day.

Soon after, my dad and I headed to Pinehurst Resort, a special father/son Monday out, but also my annual test at # 2 to see how much progress I’ve made.

After I tipped my caddie and thanked him profusely, my dad asked me what was next. I told him that I was thirsty, hungry, and wanted to sit down. I grabbed a seat, annihilated a hot dog, and took a few deep breaths, proud as hell of how I had just played.

As much as I’d like to tell you that there are more deep breaths on the horizon, that is probably not true. Jet ski season is finally here, anything but khakis®️ turns five next week, and I turn forty.

And I have to say that, as I sit here right now, sandwiches at the house to celebrate is sounding pretty damn good.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Excellence, Confidence, and Turning a Corner

“Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.”- Warren Bennis

In the last two events that I have played, I’ve had two playing partners that have played in a combined four PGA Tour events. At my home course, my preferred playing partners now are fellow professionals, current and former club champions, or some of the best young players around.

I’m not a snob. I love to have fun. I don’t want anyone left out. But to keep getting better, this is a must. I love bona fide excellence. Early on, as someone shooting 91, it was a little intimidating. But three years on, I’m just one of the boys, DYING TO GET EVEN BETTER.

I did a lot of things wonderfully well on Monday. I started well, which is something I have had to overcome. I made four birdies, which I had to learn how to do. I absolutely pounded the ball, which is credit to all of the stretching (and my height). I hit one drive 398 yards.

On the flip side, I hit two bad drives down the stretch, which cost me. I made three bad decisions: pin hunting when I shouldn’t have and playing a little too fast when the wind direction had me a little indecisive. I gave away four short putts. I still tied for 13th with a mid-seventies round, light years better than ten months ago.

My last four performances in my last four events have been more than acceptable. I’m still the new kid on the block, but I’m not a newbie anymore.

I try not to pester people, but I’m going to ask questions. If you do something in an amazing way and I want to learn how you do it and what you are thinking, I am going to authentically engage you.

If you shoot course records, win tournaments, play PGA tour events, and rattle off birdies like they are going out of style, I am going to pick your brain.

This game is infinitely difficult. To be great at it is a bona fide thing. It takes physical prowess, emotional intelligence, and an impressive mental capability. It also takes time, money, and a real effort.

I’m not great yet, but I’ve turned a huge corner over the past few months. Much if it is due to my individual grinding. Digging it out of the dirt, as they say.

But there have also been eight to ten people, a number that is growing every month, who have helped me immensely. Professionals and amateurs, to whom I will forever be grateful, who have given me free lessons, tips, and encouragement. Encouragement may be the most important because, in this game, confidence is everything.

Just know, any time you do anything, I’m in your corner. I’m pulling for you. These are some of the last words I heard from one of my mentors before I headed to Louisiana on Monday. When you have people in your corner truly believing in you, eventually, you WILL start believing in yourself.

Confidence, determination, belief, and a few good outings can change everything. Everything. I’m in the midst of turning another corner.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Savoring the Small Stuff

For the past almost five years now, I’ve written about some interesting, sometimes hard to believe experiences. Hitchhiking in Iceland, bargaining in Tijuana, and marathoning in New York City. Underwater modeling in California, hat making, and redirecting my life to Mississippi in order to get good at golf. Getting sick in Mexico City, watching two Serie A games in person in two different cities on the same day in Italy, road-tripping the great United States of America both east to west and north to south.

This list could literally go on for days, and that’s just the stuff I find interesting enough to write about. There are many more experiences that will never make it into these pages, and there are experiences I will always keep close to my heart.

And then there are the small things, or better yet, the things that seem small or normal that are actually some of my absolute favorites!

From a young age, I think I knew the non-traditional life was for me. I had very little interest in templates someone else designed. But it took these almost five years of exploration to gain the needed courage and confirm what I thought I wanted. Indeed, blazing my own trail is what gets me up in the morning.

However, there IS plenty of room for traditional things on this non-traditional journey, and it usually involves the kids.

I don’t like speaking for other adults because, quite frankly, I don’t like other adults speaking for me. However, I am almost 1,000% sure that our children are the best things to ever happen to Christy, and I know with absolute certainty that they are the best things to ever happen to me.

I never thought I would be the dad that covers his notebooks and wrists with all of the artwork and trinkets that his child makes. For a period of time there, I thought I was going to have to go-go-gadget my arms to have enough room for all of the bracelets my son made me.

I mean, just this last week, I got to take my daughter to daycare all five days, which meant we got to play together every morning.

Last week, my son made his first real birdie and started burying penalty kicks into the corner. You know I experience life through the beauty and artistry of sports, so seeing these two things up close and personal made me so happy.

The father-son trips to Boston, Memphis, and New Orleans…

But living the abk lifestyle I have chosen to live has its downfalls and trade offs. I decided to start an intentional second life. I grind at golf endlessly. I travel to off the beaten path places that interest me. My schedule is unique. I miss certain things. I am eternally grateful to Christy.

But…I do get to sneak in some really cool, really normal, really small HUGE experiences more than you might think.

A few weeks ago, my son’s school finally opened lunch back up so that if parents wanted to join, they could. I take Mondays and Tuesdays off, so he asked if I would come eat with him at his school last Monday. I told him I would love to.

With his first year of school being in COVID times, I didn’t even know what the inside of his school looked like. His teacher could have smacked me in the face, and I wouldn’t have known who she was.

So to be invited to lunch, I was buzzing, as was he. As soon as we saw each other, we both lit up. His classmates basically asked if I was a giant, and then we got straight into the nitty gritty of cafeteria food. I hadn’t been in a cafeteria in eons, so I just let Banks direct me. Get this. Don’t get that. You have to get that.

We talked and laughed the entire 25 minutes, allowed by his teacher to picnic outside together. The 25 minutes felt like about two, and as quick as I was there, I was gone. I kissed him on the head and told him I’d see him soon.

And as soon as I got in the car to leave, I decided I needed to go get a second lunch!

Have a great week.-Benj

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A Wonderful Week of Losing

“Losing is a massive part of the journey.”-abk

My two losses this week couldn’t have been any different. In one, I was in control, to an extent. In the other, I had none. In one, it was just him, me, and nature. No spectators. In the other, I was in the most electric atmosphere I have been around maybe ever. 71,000 screaming fans for the best rivalry in sports. In one, I was the player. In the other, merely a helpless fan. In one, rural Mississippi on a Monday afternoon. In the other, downtown New Orleans on a bananas Saturday night.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Fallen Oak, Saucier, MS

After drawing the best player in our PGA Section’s annual March Madness-like Match Play, I half-jokingly felt like I got the new kid on the block treatment. Playing a three-time PGA Tour event participant in the first round would be no joke, but I knew I’d give it my best abk St. Peter’s shot.

We chose Fallen Oak for our match, the consistently number one ranked golf course in Mississippi. Usually $250+ per pop and only available to guests staying at the Beau Rivage, it was my third or fourth time playing there, and a treat to be hosted with their southern hospitality.

I knew I would have to play nearly perfectly, but my game, both mental and physical, have evolved so much, I was ready. Long story short, he beat me 5&4, the match ending on the short par 3 14th when I hammered a choke down 9 iron ten yards into death over the green. My opponent won seven holes, I won two, and we tied five. Nothing to be ashamed of here. I hit the ball beautifully, sometimes too beautifully, but my short game hung me out to dry. I had chances, real chances, but I took absolutely zero of them.

It was absolutely fantastic to be around bona fide brilliance and a genuine nice guy (willing to offer some tricks of the trade) for four hours on the 80 degree and sunny day. Three years ago, shooting in the 80s was cause for celebration for me. Last Monday, I went head to head with someone who has played on the game’s biggest stage three times.

Just another wonderful loss to confirm that I am headed in the right direction.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Caesar’s Superdome, New Orleans, LA

To say that the atmosphere was anything less than completely electric on Saturday night would be the understatement of a lifetime. With the Caesar’s Superdome a quick hour and a half jaunt from my front door, you best believe I would be there. Duke-UNC, Coach K’s last hoorah, Final Four, Saturday night in New Orleans.

When my buddy, Jason, and I arrived at halftime of the Kansas-Villanova game, the place was already packed, but the noise level was just a businesslike murmur. Since my friend was a newbie to what Duke-UNC means, I let him know that as we got closer and closer to the main event, this place was about to get lit.

Having been to a zillion awesome sporting events previously, this one immediately ranked right at the top. Ever been to New Orleans on a Saturday night? The game was excellent, but the energy was absolutely bonkers. Duke hates UNC. UNC hates Duke. Everybody wants to party. It’s an explosive combination.

As a lifelong Duke fan, I left disappointed in the result, but immensely grateful for the experience. It came down to three missed free throws and then a dagger 3 pointer from the little UNC guard, who was exceptional. When that shot went in with roughly 30 seconds left, I thought the building was going to spontaneously combust. 71,000 people, many going berserk, is a lot of damn people at a basketball game.

The great Bobby Jones once said, “I never learned anything from a match that I won.” In regards to the game Saturday night, I’m pretty sure nobody was there to learn anything. They were there to win. UNC won. Duke lost. Bippity Boppity Boo.

But in regards to last Monday (and every other time I have played someone better than me over the past two years), it’s a beautiful idea. I’m only interested in being the best that I can be, and losing is a massive part of that journey.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Three Years of Building

“Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent mind.”- Jack Kerouac

Three years ago today, I hopped into my car and drove from North Carolina to Mississippi. It’s not that simple, of course, but then again, it is. I had little to no idea what was about to happen, but I knew one thing for sure. I had an opportunity to build something, and I wanted to exist in a place where I was at ease with myself and could create a lifestyle catered to my ever-evolving abk dreams and aspirations. Mississippi may not be the first place that comes to mind, but at the end of a road on a former cluttered, littered lot, right before you drive into the water, looking out at The Gulf of Mexico, abk’s symbolic office was built.

Three years later, I’m more convinced than ever that the secret sauce is two things: tuning out the noise and sunshine.

If you are anything like me, you hear a lot of noise. All of these external things vying for our attention. Five days a week (at least), my role is to serve people. To ensure they have an awesome day. To help them get better. 200 people a day. Phones ringing. I hear a lot of stuff.

If I didn’t take the time for myself and make the effort to learn how to handle the noisy world, the noise would take over. I observe it every single day. We are products of our environments. What we see and what we listen to takes over. Sometimes we don’t even know it.

What would have happened if I hadn’t taken the time to develop a certain way of being, calm and positive, in one ear and out the other when necessary? Going from a 14 handicap golfer to a golf professional, which is what almost everything on this journey now radiates from, would not have been possible if I hadn’t learned how to tune out the noise.

I had to work at it. I had to make the time. So I did, and I do. Every single day. People ask me all the time how I play golf nearly every single day. I tell them it’s just like eating lunch. I just do it. I cut through the noise and bake it into my day. Because that’s what it takes to build something wildly original and satisfying.

That, and sunshine.

The old adage says that laughter is the best medicine, but I tend to believe it is sunshine. At least in abk World, it is. My job literally revolves around whether it is sunny. My personal athletic pursuits revolve around whether it is sunny. My recreational pursuits, mood, and creative ability revolve around whether it is sunny. Not in full, but damn close.

I remember when I was in Iceland. Beautiful place, but man it can get dark. I like the light, the positivity, the vitamins from the sun. I guess it’s a good thing that ten months out of the year, it rises and sets right outside my window, right over the water, right above the pines on the golf course.

For an outdoor, cheery lifestyle, the sun shining is a must.

“I think the biggest thrill in life is to have a dream or imagine something and then get to see it be real. There’s nothing like that.”- Francis Ford Coppola

I never daydreamed about moving to Mississippi. I never imagined a life completely immersed in golf. Rather, I craved a life of personal freedom, inspiring others, and pursuing self-mastery, which then led me to the pursuit of mastery of this goofy little game.

Over the past three to five years, it’s neat to see what has been built, both figuratively and literally. It’s neat to feel so grateful to all of the people involved on this so-called journey of self. It’s neat to stand on a tee box now, a completely different human being from three years ago, knowing that transformation is indeed possible.

The process of accomplishing all of this, with all of its left turns and pitfalls, I believe, is the dream.

Some time over the past year, I had an aha moment. abk is not meant for the masses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful to everyone who is a part of the community, who follows along, who supports, who uses it even just slightly to encourage their own personal transformation or lifestyle.

But it’s really meant for that one person standing in front of me or reading quietly in bed, self-reflecting. That one person who needs a little pat on the butt, or maybe three years worth of pats on the butt, to inch him or her along on his or her own unique personal journey.

Because a few years ago, that person was me.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Lifestyle: Sports, Life, and the Thrill of the Unknown

“That’s why you play the game.”-old sports adage

Every time I stepped onto the field as a youngster, I never knew what was going to happen. Sure, I hoped I would play well and that my team, regardless of the sport, would win, but I never knew for sure. And even if I was 99.9% sure something would happen because, as an example, we were playing an inferior team, I never knew HOW it was going to happen.

And that’s why, from the time I was three years old to now being merely months away from turning forty, I absolutely love sports.

As we get older, for whatever reason, it seems we are subconsciously asked to shun variety and encouraged to crave routine, certainty, and comfort. You know, that same stuff different day. And while I crave actual comfort (ie wanting my feet not to hurt) more than ever, based on what I have observed on what routine and certainty can do to a person’s zest for life, I have found myself going in the opposite direction.

After nearly five years of self reflection, I feel most alive when life is in full bloom, and I feel life is most in full bloom when I actually, consciously have to live it.

When I have to play the game.

Do you think the starters for UNC basketball knew that they were going to have to play all 20 minutes of the second half en route to ruining Coach K’s going away party?

Do you think that the operations crew for Charlotte FC’s inaugural home game knew that the microphone was going to stop working, leading to 75,000 fans singing the national anthem in unison?

What are the odds that Ja Morant for the Memphis Grizzlies scores 52 points on the random Monday night that my son and I are in town at the game?

How interesting was it to watch professional golfers get completely confounded by the wind this week at TPC Sawgrass, hitting shots that any weekend golfer can relate to?

I wonder sometimes how my students feel when they’ve had a major breakthrough in one of our lessons. When a beginner gets the ball in the air for the first time. When someone who had been struggling shoots their best score ever. I wonder if, when they woke up that day, they knew they were going to make personal magic.

I wonder how my son felt when he saw our seats Friday night in New Orleans, close enough to see what color one of his favorite players Kelly Oubre Jr’s fingernails were painted that night. I know how I felt when I ran into an army of Hornets supporters who had flown in from back home. Double take. Triple take. Yo, I know you.

Imagine my disgust over a recent Ivy League basketball game. The over/under was around 135, I had the over, and the teams combined for almost 80 points in the first half. Yet for whatever reason, they decided not to score a damn thing in the second half.

I can tell you for a fact that, when I woke up last Tuesday, I had no idea that I was going to shoot a 4 under par 32 on my back 9.

It IS a beautiful feeling to wake up nearly every day now knowing that something statistically improbable has the opportunity to happen that day.

Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s why I watch the game. That’s why I go to the game. That’s why I play the game. Because contrary to popular belief, that uncertainty is where the magic happens.

Where life is in full bloom.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Monday Night Magic in Memphis

“100,000 years ago, there were people who stayed by the campfire, and there were people who wandered.”-Reacher

I have a needlepoint belt that is stitched with the names of some of the most interesting streets in America. King Street. Check. Broadway. Check. Bleecker Street. Check. Rainey Street. Ironically, I got rained out. Bourbon Street. Check. Collins Avenue. Check. Sunset Boulevard. Check. Beale Street. Let’s check it out.

No matter what my son, Banks, and I did in Memphis, the conversation always returned to that cool juke box in our hotel lobby. He discovered it on Sunday evening as we checked in, immediately curious as to what he was looking at. I told him and showed him how it worked, and from that point on, we couldn’t walk past the damn thing without playing a song or eight.

Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, The Temptations, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Otis Redding. Not your every day playlist for a seven year old.

The BBQ pizza we had was unique and super delicious when dipped into the extra cup of tangy sauce. I read it was a favorite of Elvis, and I can see why.

The hot and spicy chicken was hot and spicy. The beans were good. The mac was great.

The BBQ spaghetti was better than I remembered, and the beans were spectacular.

Yet the best food experience wasn’t necessarily the best food, but it definitely came with the best story.

Early on at the Spurs-Grizzlies game Monday night, I told Banks that if Grizzlies star player Ja Morant scored 50+ points (along with a couple of other things), we could literally do whatever he wanted after the game. The likelihood of all of these things happening was slim to none, so I didn’t bat an eyelid.

And then Ja posterized a dude. And then Ja hit a ridiculous halftime buzzer beater. And then he had 30. Then 40. Then I’ll be damned if it all didn’t happen. Monday Night Magic in Memphis. 52 points. Top 2 plays on SportsCenter. Grizzlies win.

After the game, we started scouring the city for ice cream. The line for the delicious sweets on Beale Street was too damn long. So we walked and looked and finally…

Three scoops of vanilla, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, cherry. I had the raspberry cheesecake myself. We popped back up to the room to relive via SportsCenter what had just happened right in front of our eyes.

But not without a stop at the jukebox first, melting ice cream and all.

You might think that Beale Street with a seven year old is not a vibe, but when the Juke Joint had its doors open, a five piece band was playing, and they served fruity drinks to go, it was a night for the scrapbook, singing and dancing with Banks in the middle of the blocked off street.

I actually thought that a tour of legendary Sun Studios might be a little slow for the big man, but when he started playing his air guitar and singing into Johnny Cash and Elvis’ actual microphone from decades ago, I changed my tune.

And when it was time for us to leave the hotel and he played Hit the Road Jack as our final walkout song, I just laughed.

I didn’t know what to expect from Memphis, but between the food, game, music, and that damn jukebox, we definitely got the win.

Just like the Grizz did on a night we will never forget.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Golf: Monday in New Orleans

“To understand what it feels like, you have to throw yourself into the fire. And if you embarrass yourself a couple of times or twelve, jump back in until you get it right.”-abk, abk Golf

As I stood over my opening tee shot yesterday in New Orleans, I felt nothing, comparatively speaking. I put the tee in the ground, picked my target, remembered my two thoughts, and swung. Maybe I felt nothing because I’m helping raise a 5 month old, and I’m tired. Maybe I felt nothing because my days are jam packed working, teaching, learning, and pursuing all of my interests, and I’m tired.

Or dammit, maybe I had simply done the work to get better.

As a reminder, in my first real golf tournament roughly eight months ago, I shot a near career-ending before it ever starts 91, 92 due to a faulty driver and MAJOR first tee jitters. I had been playing some great golf back on the coast, but I quickly learned that horsing around golf and tournament golf were two different beasts. I also quickly learned that if I had any major weaknesses, they must be addressed.

So I put my nose to the grindstone and got to work. I played a few meaningful events in the fall, still falling victim to a faulty driver and first tee nerves, but not quite as bad.

I became a professional in late November and immediately teed it up in a 6 man best ball event that was more fun than anything, but I felt a little more progress.

For the past 45 days, though, I have really been working on the driver. Get this shit right, son, and you can take the next step. Not to mention, I played 271 days last year. What’s with the first tee jitters still?

Monday in New Orleans was a two part event: a four man pro-am (which was more fun than anything) and an individual low professional tournament (which was no joke). We started on the daunting 13th hole, and though I opened up with a tap-in bogey, I did not feel nervous. After nearly birdieing the next two holes, I made a silly bogey on 16. But the moment of truth came on 17. After hitting into the sand on my tee ball and then blasting it thirty feet away, I was left with a downhill 5 foot teaser for bogey. Make it, and maybe I get it together. Miss it, things might unravel. I buried it, pumped my fist, and then proceeded to go the final 13 holes in even par, narrowly missing one birdie after another.

I posted a +3 75, good enough for T8 in a field of roughly 20 seasoned professionals, a few of whom are studs. I smashed my driver all day. My approach game was solid as a rock. I just needed a few more putts to rotate one more time.

But I’m not mad at it. In a crazy turn of events, instead of being nervous on the first tee, I felt a few nerves on my final two foot putt. Because I knew I had played a good round, and I wanted to finish strong. In a real event. In an actual tournament. Just two spots outside of the money, it turned out.

I had a beer with the boys, chopped it up, and had a few laughs. The sun was shining. The wind was still blowing. I was so proud of myself. Lots of progress made. Lots still to learn.

Have a great week.-Benj

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7 abk Thoughts on Your 7th Birthday

Excuse me’ coughed a cricket who’d seen Gerald earlier on, ‘But sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.’- Giraffes Can’t Dance

Dear Banks-

1. You have been blessed with a smattering of unique talents and qualities. Embrace them. If you ever feel that you are different, the quicker you can view that as a massive strength instead of as a weakness, the more you will be able to enjoy life and help others.

2. You (and your sister) are the greatest gifts this world has ever given your mother and me. You taught me unconditional love, though it took me a couple of years to truly wrap my head around being a parent. For the past five years, we have been two peas in a pod, and I hope that will continue forever.

3. Happiness comes from having a wonderful relationship with yourself. The world sometimes ignores the importance of this. If you have ridiculously high standards for yourself, forgive and be easy on yourself if you occasionally fall short. If your standards aren’t lofty enough for your liking, work on that. Your relationship with yourself will rub off on all of your relationships with others.

4. Perfection does not exist, and the pursuit of it is exhausting. When you come home with a 100 on an assignment, I am proud of you. When you come home with a 90, I am even prouder.

5. Respect, admire, and enjoy nature. Play outside every day for all of your life. Sunlight, sunrises, and sunsets soothe the soul.

6. If you ever feel like Gerald the Giraffe, call me and let’s talk. Been there, done that. If you ever come across someone else who feels like Gerald the Giraffe, offer some encouragement, a kind word, or a smile. Shine your light, son.

7. You have to live within certain general confines, but otherwise, the world is huge and you can literally do anything. Think for yourself. Pursue your curiosities. Be creative. Never stop learning or trying to better yourself. Create your own world that you want to live in. (I do my best to SHOW you this every day.)

With love-

Dad

2/10/22 (for your time capsule)

Ocean Springs, MS