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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