abk Golf: Monday in New Orleans

“To understand what it feels like, you have to throw yourself into the fire. And if you embarrass yourself a couple of times or twelve, jump back in until you get it right.”-abk, abk Golf

As I stood over my opening tee shot yesterday in New Orleans, I felt nothing, comparatively speaking. I put the tee in the ground, picked my target, remembered my two thoughts, and swung. Maybe I felt nothing because I’m helping raise a 5 month old, and I’m tired. Maybe I felt nothing because my days are jam packed working, teaching, learning, and pursuing all of my interests, and I’m tired.

Or dammit, maybe I had simply done the work to get better.

As a reminder, in my first real golf tournament roughly eight months ago, I shot a near career-ending before it ever starts 91, 92 due to a faulty driver and MAJOR first tee jitters. I had been playing some great golf back on the coast, but I quickly learned that horsing around golf and tournament golf were two different beasts. I also quickly learned that if I had any major weaknesses, they must be addressed.

So I put my nose to the grindstone and got to work. I played a few meaningful events in the fall, still falling victim to a faulty driver and first tee nerves, but not quite as bad.

I became a professional in late November and immediately teed it up in a 6 man best ball event that was more fun than anything, but I felt a little more progress.

For the past 45 days, though, I have really been working on the driver. Get this shit right, son, and you can take the next step. Not to mention, I played 271 days last year. What’s with the first tee jitters still?

Monday in New Orleans was a two part event: a four man pro-am (which was more fun than anything) and an individual low professional tournament (which was no joke). We started on the daunting 13th hole, and though I opened up with a tap-in bogey, I did not feel nervous. After nearly birdieing the next two holes, I made a silly bogey on 16. But the moment of truth came on 17. After hitting into the sand on my tee ball and then blasting it thirty feet away, I was left with a downhill 5 foot teaser for bogey. Make it, and maybe I get it together. Miss it, things might unravel. I buried it, pumped my fist, and then proceeded to go the final 13 holes in even par, narrowly missing one birdie after another.

I posted a +3 75, good enough for T8 in a field of roughly 20 seasoned professionals, a few of whom are studs. I smashed my driver all day. My approach game was solid as a rock. I just needed a few more putts to rotate one more time.

But I’m not mad at it. In a crazy turn of events, instead of being nervous on the first tee, I felt a few nerves on my final two foot putt. Because I knew I had played a good round, and I wanted to finish strong. In a real event. In an actual tournament. Just two spots outside of the money, it turned out.

I had a beer with the boys, chopped it up, and had a few laughs. The sun was shining. The wind was still blowing. I was so proud of myself. Lots of progress made. Lots still to learn.

Have a great week.-Benj

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