“We all know it’s hard climbing and sometimes it’s lonely – so find a good why and you can endure almost any how.”-Erik Anders Lang
When I started the golf journey over three years ago now, the quiet voice inside my head kept saying one thing over and over. You have to learn how to play golf well before anything is going to happen. That could take years. Hell, it may never happen. It’s definitely a risk. But, if you can handle that, anything is possible. Until then, that’s got to be your singular focus. Learn how to play golf well.
The logic inside of me just kept telling me that no one would take me seriously until I learned how to play well. Scratch golf, at an absolute minimum. That was more important than this certification or that certification. Learn how to play well. Immerse myself into the world of good players. Listen. Observe. Weed out the riff raff.
Give up a lucrative banking career to try something that may never happen. Sounds like a genius plan.
Somewhere between one and two years ago, I started working at a golf course. Since I was there five to ten hours a day anyway trying to get good at golf, they offered me a job. One day a week at first. Then two days. I basically ran a cash register, but that was my IN.
Then, a few months later, I became an assistant golf professional. My involvement increased significantly, and I also got lucky.
The onset of COVID around this time brought a boom to the golf industry that had never been seen before. All of a sudden our sleepy little beautiful golf course turned into Grand Central Station.
I had to learn everything. I had to learn everything fast. And I had to learn everything fast in an environment that never slowed down. I felt like a recent college graduate that hit the trading floor on Wall Street for the first time. Welcome to the team, now let’s get with it.
I love to learn, so I just buckled up. I listened. I observed. I did this wrong. That confused me. I could have done that better. But then it started clicking. This is how this works. This is why that works. But I still had questions. This doesn’t make sense. This could be changed. This could be done better.
I basically checked my wallet and ego at the door for a year (maybe more) and became an apprentice and a sponge. This applied to playing, teaching, coaching, and running a golf course. I didn’t know how to do any of this whatsoever three years ago. The subtleties, the intricacies, the details.
But I do now, largely because the demand for my and our services went bananas. I bet I learned a decade’s worth just last year.
As such, we shifted into high gear and got this place rocking and rolling. For eight to nine months out of the year, we never sit down. I personally teach six to twelve private lessons every week, with a growing waitlist. I help run our junior leagues and coach our kids. I am well into my PGA work, with a goal to be a full member by the end of 2023. I just got my American Development Model (ADM) certification for coaching kids along with my PGA Modern Coach certification. I take care of our members. I take care of the guests. I trade travel stories with the tourists. Most importantly, I play five to six days a week, and I try to play eight to twelve professional tournaments in our section each year. The most important thing is still to learn how to play well.
Just over five years ago, I started the journey of self-mastery: understanding, accepting, and investing in myself as an adult. For those first few years it felt like a figurative or intangible investment, though nonetheless important. For the last year or two, after going all in, it has definitely been a literal, tangible, financial investment. As the title of this piece states and as I wrote in my five year anniversary piece, I’ve left a shitload of money on the table. The ex-banker in me thinks I’m crazy. The current version of me is so proud that I have put my money where my mouth is.
I took a full year off to whittle 15+ strokes off my game. Over the next couple of years, I took another couple of strokes off. Now, I grind it out nearly every day trying to take decimal points off.
It may seem delusional, and I know lots of people both here and there thought I was nuts. But that first year of grinding with no pay was so important. The second year with minimal pay was so important. The third year with limited pay, relatively speaking, was so important.
They are the reasons that, for the first time in five years, the trajectory has now changed. The momentum has now changed. With every day that passes, I have a clearer picture of what this all could become.
Have a great week.-Benj
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