My, how things have changed. Some eight to nine months ago, my average golf score was 94. Now? 81.1. Am I pleased? That’s a great question.
Let me be the first to acknowledge the absurdity of all of this. That while everyone else in the world is seemingly doing something that matters, I am playing golf. 176 days so far in 2019. And not just pop in and hit a few balls kind of days, more like play 27-36 holes kind of days.
I arrive to the course whenever my elderly body allows me to now, and I leave when it gets dark. That may be 4 hours. It may be 6. I am currently nursing right elbow tendinitis and go to physical therapy twice a week for my tender right foot and ankle. Otherwise, I cannot believe my body has held up. As a necessity, I stretch about every three minutes. I also must burn a zillion calories per day because I eat everything in sight. Put it in front of me, and I’ll eat it. Put it near me, and I’ll eat it. Show it to me on a commercial, and I’ll go get it.
I think about it all the time. Food? Well, yes. But I’m talking about golf. I’m completely immersed in it. I read articles, watch videos, and interact via social media. But most importantly, I play. There is no substitute for it. The other stuff is just entertainment.
In golf, playing is the only way to get better. In golf, actually doing the work is the only way to get better. There are no shortcuts. No fancy tricks. I’ve tried.
In the eight to nine months I’ve been working, I have had to hit every rung on the ladder. Get worse first then a little better. Then a little better. Then a lot better. Then plateau. Then bust through. Then get a little better. Then get worse. Lose some confidence. Get frustrated. Then turn another corner.
I just turned another corner. But first, I plateaued and even took a few steps backwards. I got my handicap down to 4.9 a few weeks ago but have seen it rise to 6.7 currently. That’s okay (and probably accurate) as I’ve once again been working on my right hand grip that one day, I swear, will be correct.
The process gets tedious. Tiresome. Frustrating. But I remind myself every day that there are no shortcuts. Make the changes. Do the work. Keep focused.
Over the past two weeks, I broke 80 five times and posted 80 on the number two other times. The mindset now when I leave the house is break 80 or else. And really, it’s not just break 80, it’s more like shoot 76-78 now. I just did it three days in a row.
Though it wasn’t an initial goal of mine, I’m now dialed in on getting my average score below 80. Focusing on my handicap is still great, but if I can get my average score below 80, the handicap will take care of itself. Handicap is a measure of potential. Average is a measure of hardcore, no frills math.
I’ve got 31 seemingly 70 degree Mississippi days left to work in 2019. If I could drop that average from 81.1 to 79.9 in that time period (which is certainly doable), I would consider the 2019 golf progress a major success. From 94 to 79.9 in nine months in a category measuring quality and consistency? Yes, please. I’ll have that along with three burgers and three tacos.
Next Wednesday, I start my work with the PGA Professional. It’s time to get serious. I’ve slowly worked from a baseball grip to a strong grip to a semi-strong grip, and it’s now time to get it right once and for all. I MUST get the driver in the fairway more often, and I need to add a couple more creative shots around the green to my arsenal.
But overall, I am pleased. Very pleased, thanks for asking. It’s been a ton of fun and a ton of work, but I’m genuinely happy with the progress. If I can get to where I know deep down in my soul that I can shoot 75 on a good day and 78 on a bad day, I will take the next step. But I’m not there yet. Last Friday with my father, I hit the ball right, righter, and further righter-er-er. And then Monday, I hit four balls in the water on the last two holes to ruin a rather ho-hum but more than acceptable round. But it’s brewing.
Next step? Sure. Sign up for some local tournaments. Reach out to tell my story to some golf industry folks. Write a book.
Write a book? Yeah. I’ve kept copious notes just for that purpose. Every. Single. Day.
It’s about the daily grind, not some specific end goal, and I’m not going to tell you again.
(Actually, I probably will. Lots. Maybe in a book.)
Have a great week.-Benj
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