abk Golf: 443 Days In

“To get better, real, focused effort is mandatory. How much one improves is dependent upon how big the effort, how intense the focus. This applies to anything.”-abk/abk Golf

On April 17, 2019, I started the golf journey with an unofficial handicap of 14.

On August 4, 2020, I shot a lifetime low 5 under par 67.

On September 7, I achieved a lifetime low handicap of +0.2.

On October 3 and 4, I shot an 83/77 (on 11 penalty strokes) at my Club Championship which forced me to accept that I had a major problem: a huge miss left, primarily off the tee, that could ruin a round with only a handful of bad swings.

On October 11, I quietly committed to a complete makeover (again), shoring up any lingering poor fundamentals, primarily my grip.

On October 17 and 22, some 400 days in, I felt like I had never played golf before. There were times when I literally could not take the club back. I was frozen and frustrated.

In late October, I waded back into a couple of informal competitions, which was a bad decision. I wasn’t ready. I shot low 80s, which I had hoped to never see again. Seeing those scores killed my confidence. I had no business being out there.

In early November, I left the ranch for Arkansas and Missouri, playing Mystic Creek and Payne’s Valley along the way. There were glimpses of decent golf, but I kind of just wanted to get away.

Recently, in the last ten days, the 70s have returned: 75, 76, 76, 73, 72, 73, 75. That’s something I can build on.

While I was on my trip to Kansas City, I had plenty of time to reset. What did I need to do so that by year-end the changes would be complete, I would be back to shooting around even par consistently, and then I could be off to the races in 2021?

Mathematically, I am currently playing about three strokes higher than at my peak, which makes sense, given all of the recent changes. At my peak (late July to mid September 2020), I still needed to shave five strokes off of essentially a zero handicap to achieve my desired outcome. If I can get back to my peak, or maybe better, by year-end, then I could start seriously chipping away in 2021. But how?

I needed to enhance my brain, body, and attitude even further. 443 days in, things had changed, and rightfully so. I needed less holes of golf and more focused play/practice. 18 holes and a little practice each day was plenty. I needed my own form of meditation to continue to strengthen my mind. I needed to employ a methodical routine prior to each shot where I repeated key words over in my head, sometimes aloud. My stretching regimen needed to double. My calves, shoulders, and left wrist needed to get stronger. My feet, right Achilles, and left elbow needed some love. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Basically, my mind, body, and spirit needed a refresh. Who I am now is very different from who I was 443 days ago, and needs change along the journey.

The beautiful thing about golf is that the Truth reigns supreme. There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes. No pretending. No excuses. Working at the course and playing every day, I’ve heard it all. If only this, if only that. Do you think the game cares that I have a sore left elbow? Do you think that cluster of trees cares that I’ve got a career round going? As one of my coaches would say, There are no trees in the middle of the fairway.

I got my wake up call. I took my ten steps backwards. I got away. But I’m back, more focused and driven than ever, just happy to have control of my ball again.

Have a great week.-Benj

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