abk Golf: Not Satisfied

“Flaws: either own ‘em or fix ‘em.”-abk

Getting better is hard. It requires, as a first step, to acknowledge that we need to get better. I could care less what category we are talking about. I just like the idea of always getting better.

This past Monday, I played TPC Louisiana, home of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic just outside of New Orleans. I had played there once before, almost exactly two years prior. Then, I shot 102. Monday, I shot 75. 27 stroke improvement. Bravo, I know. I mentioned last week that I had experienced a similar 20 stroke improvement a few weeks ago at Pinehurst # 2. Bravo, I know.

What I didn’t mention was how each of these courses, in tandem with my daily grind, continue to expose all of my weaknesses. Sure, every aspect of my game has gotten miles better, but there are still problems to solve, weaknesses to strengthen, and ways to get better. There always will be.

This past weekend, I played in a loosely- defined tournament on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I thought I would personally use the experience as a gauge to, quite frankly, get better. My end game is years away and a true work in process, so I use these tests as opportunities to learn and improve.

Each day, our foursome had good players, with at least one player shooting under par. Though I operate in my own world out there, I love playing with ballers. I pay attention to subtle things they do. I watch them like a hawk. It’s the best way I know to get better at anything.

I played pretty well Friday, shooting a 2 over par 74 (37-37) in a whipping wind. Saturday, all hell broke loose on the front 9, and I shot a 10 over 46. Determined to salvage something, I went all in and shot a 3 under 33 on the back to post a 79 in what surely was the most bizarre round of the day/my life. Sunday, I got off to a rough start again, shooting a 4 over 40 on the way out, only to close with an even par 36 on the way in.

74-79-76. I’m not going to win any awards yet, though I did win a few bucks. I’ve known for months now I need to shave six more strokes off each round to get where I want to be, so this was about right. I wouldn’t say I was pleased with the three days, but I was pleased with certain aspects, definitely. My flaws were right there for me to analyze, and in an odd way, I was pleased with what I learned.

For the three days, I was +13 total, of which 8 strokes were penalty strokes. I went +15 on the front (37, 46, 40) and -2 on the back (37, 33, 36). I don’t need an advanced astronomy degree to analyze what was good (bravo, I know) and where an immense amount of work still needs to be done. For starters, eliminate the goofy penalty strokes and I’ve got 73-74-74. Now, we are getting somewhere.

I love making the daily highlight videos, reporting on progress, and sharing good rounds, but what brings me back to the course day after day (350 days now) are those rough starts and penalty strokes and the opportunity to understand and fix them. I’ve just got to get better. Why, you ask? Well…it’s just so much better than the alternative.

Before I teed it up last Monday, a round that I ended up walking with a buddy, I devoured two hamburgers from Lee’s Hamburgers in the New Orleans area, a 120 year old institution known for grilling tiny onions INTO its patties. They were unlike anything I had ever eaten and absolutely delicious.

Was it the best idea to eat them right before walking five miles and playing golf? Of course not. But we all have our flaws, and we have to either own ‘em or work on ‘em. The golf? I’ll continue to work on it, along with so many other aspects of my life. The New Orleans grub? I think I’ll just unapologetically own that piece and the added five pounds it kindly provides.

Have a great week.-Benj

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So Hungry, Even at 38

“Going to New Orleans, arguably the best city for food in America, and NOT eating should be a crime.”-Me

Last Friday, Banks and I rode over to The Big Easy to pick up my new driver and irons. I was super excited to finally have custom fitted golf clubs, but really, my thoughts were on food. I had already made up my mind that we would order to-go from Blue Oak BBQ, a laid back Mid-City joint owned by a couple of fellas I met last year. I got the Philly cheesesteak egg rolls dipped in Chipotle mayo. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Banks got some spicy mac and cheese. We both downed red sodas. It was divine.

As we drove back, I was like a kid on Christmas morning, stomach full of goodness and ready to play with my new toys straightaway. I dropped the big man off with mommy so they could fish, and away I went. I was expecting a break-in period of at least a week or two, but immediately I could tell I was playing a different game. The ball went where I told it to go. Night 1, I shot even par 72, barely breaking a sweat. Most people said it was the clubs. My buddy and I agreed it was mostly the egg rolls.

The next day I shot 36 on the way out, but got a little off kilter with my new yardages coming in. It was like my training wheels had finally been taken off my bicycle, and it would take a minute to get the feel. I was impatient, annoyed, and excited.

The next night was more of the same, getting more and more comfortable with the 20 extra yards of distance, increased accuracy, and shotmaking ability. I had a new paintbrush, and I was ready to paint.

On Day 4 of the new clubs, I shot a 2 under par 70, 5 inches of putts away from it being a 65. There were no egg rolls to attribute this performance to, so I guess it might just be the clubs.

Since I’ve had them, my 9-hole splits are 36 36 36 42 33 37 37 39 38 38 36. Even par or better is the goal every time out now. I’m leaving a ton of shots out there by inches. It’s coming.

Truth be told, for the first 15 months of this journey, I’ve played with substandard equipment and tinkered like a madman. Bullshit clubs off the clearance rack built for someone 5’10”. Worn out grips. Colored balls. Cheap, rock hard balls. Anything to save a buck. As such, though I’ve improved immensely (roughly 16-20 strokes per round), confession time, I never knew exactly where the ball was going. Even up until last week, I knew the vicinity-ish, but not exactly. I’ve written a ton about confidence, and not knowing messed with my head. Ever since I got the clubs, something changed. Yes, that quickly. The ball started going where I wanted it to go and how I wanted it to get there. Deep down, I got giddy. For the first time, I confidently told myself, being a scratch golfer is right around the corner now (currently 2.0, low point 0.6). The goal now must be elevated. The potential has gotten higher. The game has changed. Could I possibly be this hungry for 3-4 more years?

I have one final fitting Monday in New Orleans for my putter, wedges, and woods. Once I build and receive those last few clubs, I should be set. Decide for good on a premium ball (ProV1x, TP5x, or Chrome Soft are the finalists), have a full set of clubs built specifically for me, and be ready to reach a new level.

After the fitting Monday, I plan to play TPC Louisiana (go away Hurricane Hanna), home of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic. I played hallowed Pinehurst # 2 earlier this month and shaved 20 strokes off from my last go-round. I hope to do the same Monday, reconfirming my progress, giving me more confidence, and setting a new baseline on which to improve.

All of this golf talk is secondary and tertiary, really. We’ve got way more important things to discuss. 5+ hours of exercise every single day makes me quite ravenous, and as I just told you, I’m going to be in The Crescent City again on Monday. If I play my cards correctly, I may be able to do lunch AND dinner. Ooh, goody goody. And guess what? I guarantee I’ll be hungry for more on Tuesday.

Have a great week.-Benj

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The Big Girl Moves On

Of my 12 tattoos, there is one that gets infinitely more attention than the others. Personally, I would have thought the map of America creatively emblazoned on my chest might pique a few questions. But no, it’s the dog on my left arm. Is that your dog? What’s the story? Tell me more.

It was truly love at first sight. Years ago, when I was volunteering at the Humane Society of Charlotte, Sarah and I met. She was located in the Crazy Ass Dog section, and since I was dutifully approved to handle crazy ass dogs, we got an opportunity to get to know each other.

Immediately, I was intrigued. Sarah was still. Calm. Tail wagging. Pouty eyes. I was smitten. Super sweet, but with demons, I would learn. Strong. Very strong. A mix between pit bull, shar-pei, and everything but the kitchen sink. I learned everything there was to know about her and made the decision that all she needed was a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chance and someone who could handle her. If I didn’t step in, no one would. She would continue to be overlooked in favor of cute puppies and popular breeds. I couldn’t let that happen, so I intervened.

She was a handful from the start, joining a household that already included a female Jack Russell terrier, Becks, and a 3 pound gangster chihuahua, Happy. Sarah got along somewhat comedically with Happy ( I called them Pumbaa and Timon), but she thought Becks was a nuisance and, subsequently, a chew toy. (In fairness, Becks CAN be a nuisance.)

Fast forward some period of time, and Sarah needed a new home. It broke me, because through all the sheningans, we had this bond. She knew I saved her life, and she provided me immense love and joy. But this was the right decision, and through some bobbing and weaving, she found a new loving home with Christy’s sister, Robin. I still remember the day I dropped her off, me crying essentially the entire way back home.

She lived an amazing second life, spoiled rotten and receiving the first priority attention that she needed. I got to see her once or twice a year, her pouty eyes glued and powerful tail wagging the second I arrived. I would give her a big ol’ kiss on her big ‘ol face, and immediately, nothing had changed.

We all called her Sare Bear. Everyone was happy with how things turned out, the biggest recipient being Becks’ life. Sarah lived a good life in Charlotte, NC, a long, great life in Northern Virginia, then finished up her journey in West Palm Beach, FL last week.

I got to say goodbye to her in person in early February. She looked great, but I kind of knew. Then, this past Wednesday as I drove home from North Carolina, I got the opportunity to say goodbye for real. As I drove near Auburn, AL on I-85, a massive storm hit. Instead of fighting the intense rain, I decided to pull over and FaceTime Robin and Sarah. Immediately, I could see that it was time for her to go. She was different. So I told her goodbye and that I loved her, and that was that. I got the news while driving the following day. According to Robin, Sarah was calm, happy, and peaceful as she went. I cried all the way home.

So the next time you ask me about my dog tattoo, be prepared for this. Maybe you can relate, or maybe you should just ask me about the map of America on my chest. It’ll save us all a few tears.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Nothing But Love in NC

For the better part of 37 years, I didn’t leave North Carolina for more than a week or ten days at a time. It was what I knew. I traveled, sure, but I always came back. Then, of course, Mississippi came calling.

Last November, I came in town to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday, but I hadn’t been back since. 8 months. Wow. It was time to come back.

I legitimately have no idea where to begin this week, except to say that everyone makes me feel so special when I come home. I planned the trip for 4-5 days and ended up staying 6. I didn’t even scratch the surface of seeing everyone I wanted to see. But those I did get to see, we balled out. Literally. A golf extravaganza. But it was so much more.

Watching Jeff get the party started Friday night at Monroe with his brilliant eagle on hole 4 and his 50 foot putt on 17. Seeing Tripp chip-in for eagle soon after on 18 to end the day and bury me and The Cavemeister. Admiring Caves’ cool Payne Stewart hat. Me and Matty C, walking hallowed Pinehurst # 2 in absurd heat. Eating about 42,000 tacos for dinner that night, because I needed it. Talking shop all day Sunday with Caddy Chad, and seeing all of the boys, plus some. Watching newbie Leebo almost make that birdie on 13 at Eagle Chase.

Eating my mom’s signature meal (my life is mainly eating) with my parents, then singing songs while my mom played the piano to perfection. Seeing the Queen Bee of Wingate beside the post office. Playing golf with my dad for the first time in quite some time. Devouring the chicken, bacon, and cheddar (add pickles) sub from Gino’s. Then some more Gino’s. And then a little more. Snagging BBQ with Jimmy (I seriously love eating). Getting absolutely punked with the epic fake rattlesnake trick. Chatting with Suz and Jonny. Getting to be Uncle Benj for a few hours. Solving the world’s problems with Junior. Talking and listening, listening and talking, for 20 hours of drive time.

I listen to comments about how unique it is that we all still take the time and energy to get together with some kind of regularity. I don’t necessarily disagree with those sentiments, though I usually smile and think, it just takes a little effort. As with pretty much everything I do and subsequently write about, nothing gets done unless you actually do it. So we do it. And we did it. And we will likely do it again.

It would be silly not to mention our good friend, newly promoted Josh Lowery, Commander, USN, for which this entire shindig was originally planned. Because 2020 is bonkers, at the last minute, he couldn’t make his own party. We missed you brother, and we are extremely proud of you.

‘Til next time…

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Chronicles: #somethingnew

If not knowing is a reason,

Or discomfort or fear,

I’ve got a few little ditties,

That I’d love for you to hear.

Entering a whole new world,

Has been exciting and strange.

Everything brand new,

180 degree change.

Living in the Deep South,

I knew nothing about.

Rattlesnakes and gators,

Watch your step when you go out.

Hotter than hot,

And sometimes hotter than Hell.

Could I get my head around it,

Only time would tell.

What did I know about guns,

Or how to back a trailer?

Left goes right, Right goes left,

Had me cussing like a sailor.

Riding jet skis and boating,

Are the names of the game.

Most people go fishing,

But that doesn’t stoke my flame.

And what the hell is a nautical mile,

Why is wind measured in knots?

Low tide, high tide, wave height,

Consuming all of my thoughts.

You need a license to drive,

To hunt, to fish, or to boat.

But if you play your cards correctly,

You don’t need a winter coat.

Hurricane season,

Can get everyone’s attention.

Wind and flood insurance aren’t cheap,

I’m sure there’s plenty more to mention.

New houses built tall,

Way up high in the sky.

Can look like a giant treehouse,

But now I understand why.

The answer is Katrina,

Back in 2005.

Still burning deep in people’s psyche,

What washed away and what survived.

Then there’s The Great Golf Journey,

Would they think I was insane?

Because I gave everything up,

Just to play a silly game.

A boy from North Carolina,

Green glasses, pink belt, pink hat.

Cheering for the Panthers,

Instead of Saints Nation, Who Dat?

The place is now my sanctuary,

To grind and do my stuff.

Hellbent on this vision to help others,

‘Til I deem enough’s enough.

The human journey is real,

Full of questions and fears.

Full of obstacles and risks,

Full of blood, sweat, and tears.

I may never be an insider,

A fisherman or sailor.

But at least I finally learned how to

Back up that damn trailer.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Golf: Bumps and Bruises

6/5/20, Gautier, Mississippi-

After consecutive birdies on holes 12 and 13, I found myself at 2 under par. Mark my word, that was the only reason I was still at the golf course. After about four hours of waiting, watching mediocre players play from the professional tee boxes, and other ridiculous tomfoolery, I had had enough. But I was 2 under, so on I trudged. I made a miraculous bogey on 14, a bored bogey on 15, and two ho-hum pars on 16 and 17 while talking nonsense with my playing partner from Tampa, Florida. Five hours plus now. No wonder so many guys aren’t allowed to play golf. Even par on 18 tee, I smoked a drive right down the middle. But then something bizarre happened. Pitching wedge in hand from roughly 135 yards, the club left my hands as soon as I hit the ball. The club went straight. The ball went sideways. It was really weird. Annoyed, bored, and confused at this point, I sunk a 20 foot putt to claw out a double bogey and carded a frustrating 74.

Initially, I thought the club had simply slipped out of my sweaty, bored hand. But upon further reflection, I had been losing feeling in my left hand all day. Then at go-time on 18, the hand simply went to sleep. Though I fought it for another week or two, it was the beginning of the end for a while.

I am no stranger to soreness and injury. For 25 years now, it’s just been there. I’ve grown to tolerate the daily soreness, but an injury brings along its ugly cousins: loneliness, boredom, and fear. This particular injury, an overused left arm (think shoulder, elbow, wrist and forearm pain), really scared me.

Along the great golf journey, there have been three injuries that I consider significant. They are inevitable. I mean, I’m 38 years old, exercising and grinding every day like I’m 20 years younger.

The first injury was piriformis syndrome on my right side, a nagging, hard-to-get-rid-of injury where a tiny little muscle near the hip/buttocks messes with the sciatic nerve. I surmise this injury occurred during the NYC Marathon Volume 2 and lingered into the first few months of golf. The aggravation was brutal. I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t sleep. At the recommendation of a yoga expert, I stretched a very specific stretch and rolled sideways on a tennis ball as much as I could tolerate. Eventually, after months and months, it went away.

The second injury was plantar fasciitis in my right foot, a heel injury I would not wish on anyone. It resulted from months of walking while playing and constantly being on my feet practicing. I wore a boot to sleep, even though I couldn’t really sleep. I went to physical therapy. I stretched my calves every free moment I had. I started using a cart when I played. Finally, a month or two ago, after my 16,000th calf stretch, it went away.

The current injury is golfer’s elbow/tendinitis of my left arm, and the swelling is mucking with the two nerves that meander down to my hand. It doesn’t really hurt. It tingles. It annoys. It causes double bogeys on the 18th hole. It came about from golf, carrying a big ass iPhone, and holding my dinner plate in my hand as I ate since I haven’t had a dinner table in about a year and a half. I’ve rested it on two different occasions recently for five and seven days, respectively, and it helped. Surely, soon enough, it will go away too.

For the last 25 years, I’ve had to become skilled at balancing overuse vs. rest. Not enough vs. too much. Too much leads to injury. Not enough makes my arthritis angry. I want to fulfill my potential. I want to push limits. I don’t want to hurt.

I returned to action on Friday night, a little sore and rusty. I played my first round back on Saturday, carding a 74 and easing my fears that I had forgotten how to play. My current handicap is 1.3. My average score is down to 75.4. My new clubs tailored specifically to my game should be here any day.

As I told my boy Kris last night, let my arm get right and my new clubs arrive. Give me a month to tinker and grind. And then I really feel like I will be there, ready to scare even par or better every time out.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Never-Ending Unlearning

As you may have seen, I didn’t write anything last week. Well, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t publish anything last week. I wrote quite a lot, but none of it captured exactly what I wanted to say.

Honestly, my week was just a little too noisy.

On the previous week’s piece, I got a decent amount of commentary on the concept of unlearning. I wrote about it because I am passionate about it. I wrote about it because I have actively been doing it for three plus years. I wrote about it because I think, for adults, UN-learning might be more valuable than learning.

Maybe you want to know more about unlearning. Maybe you are wondering how to truly unlearn. Well, as with everything, I don’t have the answers. But I’m happy to share my experiences.

Unlearning is not easy. It’s even less easy to do whilst surrounded by noise (shout out last week). It’s not overly popular. It’s not at the top of people’s daily to-do list.

It takes time. It takes real commitment to yourself. It takes courage.

You run the risk of offending your family, friends, boss, clique, country club pals, pastor, teachers, and anyone who thinks you should behave exactly as they. You risk offending those living in the past. I made the internal decision that it was worth it. It was worth the risk to uncover who I really was and wanted to be.

Stubbornness has absolutely no place. Ditto ego.

Learning is often subconscious through what we see and hear. Unlearning is a very intentional exercise.

Unlearning holds the power of REAL change. I’ll vouch for that.

When and why did changing our minds become such a negative thing? Why did changing our minds become a weakness? Why is upholding tradition so positive?

Over the past three plus years, I’ve changed my mind on roughly 642.8 topics. Negative Nancies might say I’ve become wishy washy, hit a midlife crisis, or gone crazy. Positive Pollies might say I’ve grown immensely, or better yet, evolved. It all sounds fancy, but really I just changed my mind. I got off autopilot. I got new information.

Y’all remember a few years ago when I was writing incessantly about traveling solo, meeting strangers, and unveiling a new world? Y’all remember when I quit my job, sold my stuff, and moved to la la land to create a rather unique, intentional life from scratch?

Through meeting new, different people in new, different places and doing new, different activities, I took in an immense amount of new, different information. This is what helped me. There is no more direct way to say it.

This new way of life seeks to eliminate categories. I don’t define myself as anything anymore. I’m just here, designing something different. (Ok, maybe I’m a very ambitious golfer). Categories can crush us. Categories can define us. Categories can confine us. You’re a Republican? Divorced? A Buddhist? An accountant? A homeowner? Brilliant. We are so much less. We are so much more.

The neat thing about seeking to eliminate categories is that it promotes open mindedness, or more specifically, a bona fide opportunity to undo and unlearn. Not having categories allows free thinking. Not having categories promotes common sense. By not having categories, the category can’t own us.

But I’m not a dope. I know categories exist loud and clear, and in the larger world, likely always will. One of the issues we are facing head on right now is that many people are born with facts that we then place into categories that, unfortunately, have caused them to be treated both overtly and covertly as unequals for centuries.

Wanted: Lots of conscious unlearning to overtake subconscious learning.

New and different really was and is still the key. It opened my eyes to the subconscious promotion of rigid, self-serving systems. Racial, economic, religious, educational, healthcare, legal, and on and on. Better not think for yourself. Better not believe anything different. Better not rock the boat.

Where do you want to get better? Where do you want to make an impact? Do you want to fight the war on racial injustice? Do you want to get better at golf? Do you want to be a better father or mother or human?

The hardest, yet arguably most important piece of my getting exponentially better at golf has been the unlearning of years worth of bullshit habits. The new, correct stuff I’ve learned has been a piece of cake. The bad habits? I continue to fight them every day.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to do. Lord, no. As the genius Dave Chappelle said, “I’m here to help you reveal yourself to you.” Your best self, as the cool kids say. Your 2020 potential.

Daily action. Daily maintenance. Make the time. Make the effort. My whole world changed. I support you.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Being Better: Doing the Work

A few weeks ago, I called my biggest confidant. He stepped outside of his home so we could chat openly about solving the world’s problems, as we always do. I asked him what was cracking, and he told me a cop had already circled twice, eyeing him down as he walked outside and talked on the phone. This handsome, kind, articulate, well-educated man decided to go back inside.

I’ll never know how that feels, but I never want HIM or anyone else to feel that way ever again.

Surely you see it. It’s everywhere. Real life. Real people. Real communities. Not fake, biased, crazy TV news life. Surely you do. Maybe you don’t. Maybe that’s where the work has to begin. Lying to ourselves can be problematic at best, and as we’ve seen time and time again, deadly to others at worst.

When change is needed and things don’t change, people get frustrated. Mad. Furious.

Especially when the root cause and primary point is being ignored entirely, and is instead being deflected towards Christ knows what.

The problem is the problem. I get it now. Surely you do too? Everyone versus racism. Right versus wrong. Dig deep. Today is a great day to start the journey. Today is a great day to start the work.

I never would have had the insight or courage to write this piece three years ago, but I have lived these last three years looking in the mirror with my index finger pointed directly at myself.

I had to open my eyes and heart. I had to stop lying to myself. I had to feel shame, guilt, and embarrassment for things I had done, said, believed, ignored, or overlooked, many of them subconsciously. I had to unwind and unlearn everything the system promotes so I could see clearly, and then relearn what I actually, personally believe. It’s had a stunning effect. My world is very, very different.

The good news is I’ve found inner freedom. The bad news is I’m more aware than ever that lots of people still don’t have basic freedom.

The bad news is the truth is dirty. It’s nasty. Life isn’t clean. It can be uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. The good news is we can do something about it. We can get better.

The good news is anything can change with action and effort. Effort and action. The bad news is corporate lip service, singing Kumbaya, fleeting trends, campaigns, and quick fixes are often applauded over real effort and action. God forbid the bottom line or status quo get affected. God forbid we offend a friend or family member.

My biggest confidant is a black man. One of the people I miss the most in Charlotte is a strong black woman. The person I am pulling for hardest from afar is a talented black lady. I’ve shared meals, drinks, and intimate stories with each of them.

However, I spend most of my time playing a sport dominated by rich, white men in a state with a ridiculously ugly racial history.

Is playing golf in Mississippi a crime? No. Of course not. Could it be part of the greater problem? Maybe. Is it an opportunity? Absolutely. An opportunity to continue to listen and learn, to live what I learn, and then to have the courage to share it broadly. To actually be an advocate. I must do better. We must do better.

After three years of writing now, surely you know my stance. The POWER of UNLEARNING ideas that have been passed down and/or celebrated for generations, many of them outdated, inefficient, illogical, wrong, backwards, or downright evil, is HUGE.

UNLEARN. It’s an underrated, wonderful, terrific, beautiful, very difficult place to start the journey.

Effort and action. Action and effort.

I’m committed to doing my part.

Have a great week.- Benj

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abk Golf: The Impossible Goal

“Impossible is Nothing.”-Adidas

Before we get started this week, I want you to forget about golf. Now, unless your passion/livelihood/goal is golf-related also, take a second and replace golf with whatever it is that you are passionate about or want to get better at. Now, good, we are all on the same page. Let’s continue on.

Since the last time we spoke about golf, a lot has happened. I shot my first even par 72, where on the home stretch, I was so nervous I couldn’t feel my arms. The next night, I shot my first 2 under par 70, and I wasn’t nervous at all. (They said, like so many things in life, that you just have to do it once.) Last night, I shot 72 again. I’ve lowered my official USGA handicap to 0.6, which statistically puts me in the top 2.5% of golfers nationwide. My average score is down to 76.05 (most proud of this), and I played my 300th day of golf in the last 13.5 months on Friday night.

300 days of practice. 5-6 hours per day. 1500-1800 hours of grinding so far. In 25 mph wind. Or 105 degree heat. With sore hands. Sore feet. Sore brain.

But I am nowhere near my goal. Not even close. I’m just laying the foundation. Just getting started. Realistically, if my body holds up and I have a few bucks left, I am two years away. Maybe more like four. Let me repeat that. I have gotten to the 98th percentile of golfers, and I’ve got 2-4 more years of grinding. But that’s okay. It’s the daily process I am in love with, not the goal. My goal is impossible anyways. Says the world.

Dude, what IS the goal? Well, it’s pretty out there, but let’s first recap where 13.5 calendar months and 300 days dedicated to golf (anything) can take you.

Massive growth and progress is the easy answer. Luckily, I am blessed with athleticism and am a quick learner, because it turns out I didn’t know jack shit about golf. But instead of seeing that as a barrier, I just put my head down, asked a bunch of silly questions, took my lumps, introduced myself to some people in the know, observed (not listened to) everything, tinkered, tried stuff, and took off.

I want to learn to play the game at the highest level. I want to develop a well-rounded game. I have no interest in simply breaking par once. I have absolutely no interest in making a hole in one. I want to develop a meticulous consistency where on good days I am good, but on bad days I am also good. The only way I know to do this is to grind, practice, and work. All with purpose. All with intention. So far, it’s worked. Shocking, right? As I tell aka show my son, there’s an excuse for everything or a way to do anything.

When I first started the golf journey, I randomly met a young guy out at the course who wanted to play. We both shot roughly 90 and had a nice time playing.

Fast forward nine months, and I randomly ran into the same guy again. He immediately asked if I wanted to play, and before I could warn him about my progress, he threw out a friendly wager. I told him I’d been playing a ton and gave him the opportunity to rescind the bet, but his pride stood in the way. Anyways, some three hours later, I beat him by 15 or so strokes. 15. He asked me how I’d improved so much, and I simply told him “a lot of focused work”. Then I told him to keep his money, but more importantly to listen next time somebody tries to save him $20.

I mean, it’s really simple this week. If you want to get better at something, anything, put in the work. Focused work. Also, be careful who you bet money with. It might not be the same person you once knew.

Have a great week.- Benj

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Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis, @abkgolf, and now @anythingbutkhakisphotography.

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abk Lifestyle: The World is Huge and The Options are Endless

“Is it better to be different and know that you are different or to be different and think that you are the same?”-anything but khakis

38 year old Benj: I had a birthday this week. I turned 38. I worked on my golf game, went jet skiing, and had dinner with family.

22 year old Benj: I had a birthday this week, too. I don’t remember exactly what I did, but I just graduated from Mars Hill College, and I am grinding hard as I get ready to continue my soccer career as a graduate student at Wingate University in the fall.

38: That’s great! I actually just made a video congratulating the Wingate University Class of 2020.

22: Cool! What did you say?

38: It’s on Facebook somewhere, and I only had 30-45 seconds, but if I had had longer, here’s what I might have said:

——

Everyone and their brother wants to tell you how to live. What to do. What to believe. What’s right. What’s wrong. Advice for this. Advice for that. Clichés that sound cool. Quotes that look nice. They are often well-intentioned, but they don’t know you. You know you, and if you don’t, well, start there. I did, three years ago, as 35 year old Benj.

I believe everything starts with self. What do you want? What makes you tick? Get to know yourself. Love yourself. When you screw up, forgive yourself. Most of all, be kind to yourself.

However, comparing yourself to someone else is a recipe for disaster. Life is internal, not external, and no one really knows what they are doing. Yes, adults too. Especially adults. It’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to change your mind. It’s ok to not believe what you believed ten years ago. The framework we are often presented is, quite frankly, backwards and somewhat rigid.

Find your people. Be patient. Understand your emotions. Take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Money is merely a tool, bigger isn’t always better, and freedom is so underrated (and tied more to courage than money).

What you want should be personal and intimate. If you don’t know what you want, try stuff. Even in adulthood. Forget The Joneses. Forget the roadmap. Get comfortable with discomfort. It leads to extreme growth. Be ready to adjust. Things don’t stay the same, nor should they. Things are also not fair. Oh, and a personal fave, no one likes a complainer (except other complainers).

You likely have some talent that will help others. Foster it. Use it. If you want to get better at something, work at it. Everything starts with self but is meaningless without everyone else. Making an impact, a true impact, even on just one person, beats pretty much everything.

Free thinking, selective hearing, thick skin, and a big heart will take you somewhere pretty cool.

At the end of the day, you just have to be you, the real you, and finding, developing, understanding, and accepting that person is life’s great journey.

Own your life story.

Have a great week.- Benj

Join the abk community!

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis, @abkgolf, and now @anythingbutkhakisphotography.

If you enjoy these and would like to get the weekly piece via email, please follow on the website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.