abk Golf: So Close, Yet So Far Away

“Every single shot matters.”- abk Golf

We must begin to normalize personal failure as a part of the process. At a minimum, accept it. At a maximum, applaud it. Fear of failure and fear of judgment in regards to failing are preventing so many people from discovering what they are truly capable of. I’ve been there. I know.

But a few years ago, I reversed course and decided I was going to find out who and what I could really be. 100% Benj. Not 30%. Not 85%. No cruise control. A journey way outside the comfort zone.

One of my biggest learnings along the way is that to get to my 100%, embracing failure is mandatory. Yes, embracing failure is mandatory because it means that I am pushing my limits, pursuing my curiosity, and experiencing new things.

One of the things that I have chosen to do is ridiculously hard, and I failed again, for the umpteenth time, on Tuesday in New Orleans. I was sick to my stomach with how it all went down. But after a couple of conversations and an adequate night’s rest, I understood the day’s importance in becoming 100% Benj.

It wasn’t a failure. It was a massive, massive moment. I just came up a little short.

It wasn’t lost on me that on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, I had the opportunity to pass the most difficult piece of the puzzle in transitioning from an amateur to a professional. Less than 20% of people who take the PGA Player Ability Test pass, it takes many good golfers multiple times, and many never actually pass.

It was my first attempt at taking the 36 hole playing test, a grind that would last roughly nine straight hours in the Louisiana sun. It would test playing ability, grit, patience, nerves, and mental prowess. The test doesn’t demand that you shoot lights out. It ensures you are a damn good, consistent golfer that possesses all of the tangibles and intangibles to be called a professional.

It was a gorgeous, albeit windy, day in The Big Easy. I was ready. Not hyped. Not too excited. Ready. Focused. After a practice round, a little tomfoolery, and a good meal in the city on Monday, I had a job to do Tuesday. I did the job for the first nine holes, carding a ho-hum 38. I did the job for the second nine holes, carding another ho-hum 38. I did the job for the third nine holes, carding yet another ho-hum 38.

A fourth ho-hum 38 would have done the trick with four strokes to spare, but competitive golf is never that straightforward, I am learning. After good pars on my 28th and 29th holes of the day, the drama began. I missed a two footer for par on my 30th hole, but followed it up with a great par on one of the hardest holes on the course. And then, inexplicably, I bogied four straight holes. Inexperience. Let me repeat, inexperience.

I headed to the par 5 18th hole for the second time needing only a bogey to pass the exam. Over the past nearly nine hours and 35 holes, I had not made anything close to a double bogey. And then, like an absolute clown, I choked and made a double bogey. I wanted to vomit.

Interestingly, with five holes left to play, I heard my subconscious say Don’t make a mistake. Instead of playing smart offense as I had all day, I started playing defense.

It’s against everything I believe and the complete opposite of abk, and it cost me. I needed to shoot 156.4, and I shot 157. By playing it too safe.

0.6 of a stroke after two and a half years of grinding. It’s a tough pill to swallow but a great lesson learned. Failure, redefined.

Have a great week.-Benj

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