Greetings from beautiful Dauphin Island, Alabama. It is Monday, September 7, 2020, and I am taking the day off. Christy and Banks are out swimming in the water, and I’m reflecting on the last 509 calendar days. Because yesterday afternoon, after my second even par 72 of the week, the deed was done. I went from a 0.1 handicap to a +0.2 handicap.
Did I feel anything? You damn right I did! Pride, extreme thanks, and of course, the ever present soreness.
On April 17, 2019, the golf journey started. I was a passionate, ambitious, athletic 36-year old trying to become an elite golfer. That was 510 days ago. A lifetime, easily. During that period, I spent 382 days playing and/or practicing golf, typically for four to seven hours each day. By my estimation, I spent 2,000+ focused hours grinding. My arthritic fingers hurt as I write this. But I’m at peace. It was one hell of a journey.
It will continue tomorrow, or just to be clean, we can say another phase is going to begin. My confidence is high. My scoring average is now sub-75. My potential is limitless. I bebopped around even par all week without making any putts. I’m hitting 75% of the greens, and when the putts start falling again, I’m confident I’ll be writing about shooting regularly in the 60s.
As I reflected last night, I noted three major aspects that drove the improvement from 14 handicap to +0.2 and scoring average from 92.9 to 74.8.
1. Complete daily immersion in the game. Even on days when it rained or I was injured, I worked out, did mental work, or something else golf-related. The key word here is daily. Was it a balanced life? Sometimes not. Was it selfish? Absolutely, at times.
2. Proper coaching, teaching, lessons, and playing with players better than me. My new friends down on the coast made every golf tool possible available for me. Formal lessons, informal tips and ideas, unlimited play on a tough course. There are probably 15 or so really good players at my home course, and slowly but surely I wiggled my way into their presence. We all want to be the smartest person in the room, but I made sure I was the dumbest and worst in my group for a few months. I observed and listened. The results were immense.
3. Proper equipment. I finally broke down and made a large investment in tour level clubs, shafts, and balls. It wasn’t cheap, but I should have done it sooner. This may sound silly, but being able to carve the ball through the air and make it go where you want and how you want is priceless. Investment in self.
After 509 days on the golf journey, I now see the golf course very differently. After a couple of years of extensive traveling a few years ago, I began to see the world differently. After almost 3.5 years on the anything but khakis self-exploration journey, everything is different. Everything.
But isn’t that the whole damn point. Pushing forward. Changing our minds. Challenging the stagnant, stale status quo that we pretend works, but doesn’t. Accomplishing the impossible.
So what’s next? Who knows. But for now, I’m on the beach, my fingers hurt, and I’m going to read my GQ.
Have a great week.-Benj
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