With my nerves at an all-time high, I basically shot myself out of the tournament on my first tee shot Thursday morning, my ball narrowly missing a spectator who surely thought he was far left enough to be safe.
With my adrenaline at an all-time high, I re-teed my ball, smoked it, and then watched it hit a cart path that had no business being in play, the golf ball then bouncing on top of a nearby cottage’s roof.
With my confidence at an all-time low, I finally finished the hole and wrote down a 9 on my scorecard. And then, for the next four hours, I fought like hell to turn what was looking like a potential 115 into a 91. Odd as it sounds, given that I finished 10 spots out of last place and usually shoot around 75, I was kind of proud. If you recall the end of one of my last pieces, I wrote simply, Don’t give up on yourself.
As we celebrated my parents and their 50th wedding anniversary over the past week, certain stories about them came roaring back into my mind, a couple of which I would like to share.
When Christy and I told my parents we were moving to Mississippi to attempt a different kind of life, one loaded with uncertainty but where the possibilities were endless, my parents’ responses epitomized everything they mean to me. My dad, who I can count the times on one hand where he has ever told me what to do, responded simply, Good for you. My mom, who we joke learned her lesson about telling me what to do when she told me I didn’t know how to raise a dog or run a marathon, cried, said, We will miss you, but good luck.
No pressure to stay, no this is a big mistake, no guilt trip for taking their grandson ten hours away, no this is not normal, no what if this fails. Just good for you, and good luck.
Thinking it was impossible to start Day 2 of the tournament worse than the first, I quickly got a wake up call that tournament golf has no sympathy. After the starter announced, Benjamin Bostic from Ocean Springs, I felt my arms go limp. I proceeded to hit my tee ball left into knee high riff raff, took five strokes to get out, had a backwards chip, a regular chip, and 3 putts to finally get the ball in the hole. A bit lost but oddly calm, I wrote down a 10 and then got on with it, my caddy and good buddy Kris somehow keeping a smile on my face. We had some good birdie looks, and then hole 7 appeared, eager to dash my hopes and dreams forever.
Thirteen strokes later that included a lost ball and a few unplayable lies, I exhaled and looked at Kris. Both speechless, there was nothing left to do but fight like hell to turn a potential 115 into a 92. So I decided to par nine of the final eleven holes and post a ridiculous 54-38 split that made the girl at the scorer’s table giggle. Odd as it sounds, given that I finished 10 spots out of last place and usually shoot around 75, I was kind of proud. If you recall the end of one of my last pieces, I wrote simply Don’t give up on yourself.
As I’ve reflected on everything in my life over the past four plus years, it occurred to me that my mother was in the same league as an elite athlete. As a professional pianist for basically a lifetime now, she knew what it took to be good, day in and day out, for fifty years. If I had a dollar for every time I called home and my dad said, Your mother is out practicing, I’d be a billionaire. This remains the case today, even at 70+ years old.
Some time in the last year, my mom and I were deep in conversation at their kitchen table in Wingate. I forget how we got to this point, but we were discussing the difference in being a professional, being good, and thinking you are good, but not truly being there yet. Watching mom turn into her other role for maybe the first time ever in that kitchen, she told me, Benj, sometimes you just aren’t good enough yet, and that’s okay.
As awesome as it would be to share some romantic, lovey dovey memory of my parents, their marriage and their partnership means something completely different to me as their son. In tandem, side by side, both individually and together, they have given me the freedom to do whatever I want to do with my life. Move to Mississippi or move to Mars? Get good at golf at the absurd age of 39?
They have always required one condition, though. Time and real effort are mandatory. Resilience. Toughness. Consistency. Patience. But failure? I’ve never heard them utter the word.
This week taught me a number of things. Least important is that I need to learn to drive the ball straighter and eliminate first tee nerves. More important is that I continue to work hard and get better as I am clearly not good enough yet. Most important is that I understand better why my parents have been married for 50 years.
Have a great week.-Benj
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