500 Days of abk Golf: The Great Humbling

“Fall in love with losing, because most people are scared of it.”-GaryVee

In the past 658 calendar days, I’ve worked to get better and better (and better) at golf for 500 of those days. I’ve felt every emotion (and soreness) a person could feel. The most poignant? Being humbled.

One of the primary reasons I have become enamored with getting good at golf is that it doesn’t play favorites. You can dress nicely, but it doesn’t matter. You can come from a wealthy family, but it doesn’t matter. You can be a CEO of a major company, but it doesn’t matter. If you can’t or don’t tend to the physical, mental, and emotional aspects required to play the game at a high level, the game will very quickly eat your lunch.

500 days. Yes, you read that correctly. 503 now. Probably 2500+ hours on the course. Hundreds more off the course. The amount of information I have taken in, processed, and tried to spit back out via playing good golf is astounding.

I’m a quick learner, but damn.

First, some thoughts about the physical. The body was not meant to swing a golf club violently at 100mph+ over and over. But then again, the body is an amazing machine. I’m actually astounded that my body has held up over these 503 days. But then again, I’ve tended to it daily with light weights, stretching bands, and the like. I’m super sore all of the time, but that’s just the tradeoff from the decision I made. I’m 38. I have arthritis. I’m on my feet 6-12 hours per day. (I’d rather be on fire than on my feet in my down time.) My calves, Achilles, feet, elbows, and wrists talk to me constantly. But I know how to talk back, so we carry on.

Second, some thoughts about the mental. The mind is an amazing machine. It can compute so much more than we think, as long as we treat it kindly. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve taken in ridiculous amounts of high level golf information that I’ve somehow filtered through. As you can imagine, at times, I’ve struggled with extreme mental fatigue. Sometimes, I press on. Sometimes, I take a break. I’ve learned how to manage it, so we carry on.

I’ve also struggled with Do I belong?, though that thought is becoming less and less prevalent. I share this with you because I think when a person dives into something new or on the non-traditional path, he/she can feel this way. Instead of running scared the other way, the remedy to this is hard work and genuine desire. This will eventually lead to getting good, which solves so much.

Last, some thoughts about the emotional. Playing this game well relies on having confidence. Confidence comes from a myriad of factors, but for me, it comes from playing well and seeing that little white ball go in the hole over and over. During the last couple of months and at other times along the journey, I’ve just felt off. Like, I knew what to do, but for some reason, I just couldn’t do it. That frustrated me. Then it snowballed. Then it got cold. And windy. And I made a bunch of changes. And then before long, a man that thrives on confidence had none. I didn’t know how to get it back other than to keep grinding, but recently it came back, so we carry on.

The best advice I’ve received along the golf journey is to play with players better than me. It’s humbling, but it’s an incredible learning experience. I might shoot a respectable 75 now and finish last in my foursome (this has happened a zillion times). I lost by 15 strokes (67-82) to a 15 year old kid a few months ago. For all intents and purposes, I’ve been beaten all year. What has this gotten me? Absolutely incredible improvement.

The final question that I sometimes ponder is Does any and/or all of this matter? On the one hand, the answer is of course not. It’s just golf. On the other hand, everything matters, and most definitely getting good at golf matters. I’ve dedicated my life to the game for the recent past and the foreseeable future.

The journey to get really good at something is a fascinating one, often focused on THE THING when in fact, it’s the pushing of normal human limits (the physical, the mental, the emotional) to a different level that really is THE THING.

What’s next? Pinehurst in a week’s time, where something magical is bound to happen.

Have a great week.-Benj

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