abk Golf: Heading Backwards to Move Forward

“Taking on a new challenge is a bit like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, then you’re not doing it right.”-Ted Lasso

After 509 calendar days focused on golf, 382 days actually playing golf, 2,000+ focused hours, an improvement from a 14 handicap to 0, an improvement from a 93 scoring average to mid-70s, a career round of 5 under par 67, taking a job at the golf course, investing thousands of dollars in equipment, and daydreaming about the game, well, daily…you might say I had become a serious golfer. Dead *****g serious, to be honest.

Yet here I stood, a month ago, the powers that be telling me, You have a big decision to make. Are you serious about getting seriously good at golf?

Me: (deep sigh) Seriously?

Maybe it was the fact that I had fallen into my first real slump weeks before the Club Championship, alternating between scores around even par and some 6-10 strokes higher. Maybe it was the fact that my putting position had gone awry, or that I was battling plantar fasciitis in my right foot again, or maybe it was the left wrist pain. Regardless, my good days would still be good, but my bad days were regressing quickly.

Maybe my mind was fried. #2000+focusedhours

Maybe my body was fried. #382golfdays

Or maybe my grip just sucked.

It irritated the hell out of me that I would go shoot an effortless 72 one day and then a 78 the next and feel totally and completely lost. Good should be consistently good. In my mind, something had to be done. In their mind, something had to be done. Until your grip is 100% fundamentally correct on every shot, you will suffer this irritation. Spend the time, effort, and frustration to get it fixed, and maybe you could go play some seriously serious golf by the end of the year.

The easy thing to do here would be to accept that I had become a scratch golfer, brag to whomever would listen that I had ticked a box, and carry on as if that were the end goal. In reality, that was just the next metric on the way to a much larger metric, outcome, or goal, whatever you want to call it. But more importantly, labels like this can confine, and I’ve got so much more I want to do than just tick that box.

Also, 25 percent of the time still, I was playing like a clown. Sooo…

Day 1 of the major grip overhaul, I felt like I had two left hands. Day 2, I felt like I had two left feet. Day 3, my right forearm and shoulder were residing on a different planet. Day 4, I shot a 74. It felt uncomfortable. It felt boring. It felt like something I could really build on. Last night, I might as well have been swinging a leaf blower.

My first MAJOR goal along my golf journey is still roughly four years away. More and more, with golf and with life, I’m less concerned about that destination and more interested in what magic the journey brings. What can be overcome, what limits can be pushed, what changes can be made for the better, what can be learned, what can be taught, who can be helped.

Listen, I’m the luckiest dude on the planet, but what I am trying to accomplish is madness on the difficulty scale, so I’ve learned to embrace the struggle portions of the journey. In those 382 golf days, I’ve hit plenty of frustrating plateaus, but this past month was my first real slump. My confidence was low. My body hurt. My mind was fatigued. So the idea of taking ten steps backwards wasn’t met with cheers and laughter. But after thinking about it, a subtle kick in the pants was indeed a great idea, and much needed. My grip needed to be fixed once and for all, but something in my mindset needed to evolve forward also. Again. Change. Again. I mean, for God’s sake, on September 28 I shot a 1 under par 71, and I don’t think I even smiled.

But as I think about the journey, I smile. As I think about what’s to come because of this slump, this struggle, these ten steps backwards, I smile a lot.

And if you don’t know who the fictional character Ted Lasso is, look him up. He’s feel good. He’s silly. But he’s rather undeterred when it comes to belief and hope.

Have a great week.-Benj

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