abk Golf: Documenting the Struggles

In my last journal entry, I talked about my entire family being literally sick. Just ten days ago, I was throwing up everywhere. Some 24 hour bug. It had me sideways.

This week, I want to talk about being figuratively sick. Think, for a moment, about resigning from a great career, taking a massive pay cut, and leaving family and friends so that you could focus on one thing that required an exorbitant amount of time, effort, and attention. Think about grinding it out for over three years, day after day, accomplishing both so much and absolutely nothing simultaneously. And then for whatever reason, one random day, you completely forgot how to do what it is you’ve worked all this time to do. I bet it would make you sick to your stomach. It certainly did for me.

I can tell you exactly where it started: my second shot on the 17th hole at The Warren Course at Notre Dame University, September 2nd, 2022. To my knowledge, I had never hit a shank in my entire life, but about 2:30pm that afternoon, I hit my first one. And then I hit my second. And then my third. I never got my ball in the hole on the 17th and 18th holes, a disappointing finish to an otherwise fantastic day.

I thought maybe the heat had gotten to me. Maybe the local Michigan IPA had me a little woozy. Maybe giving lessons to my playing partner had me a little unfocused. Or maybe, after being completely honest with myself, I knew something was seriously wrong. I felt a knot in my stomach.

It was very apparent upon my return from my trip that something was seriously wrong with my golf game. My first round that I played? Horrible. My first lesson that I gave? For the first time ever, I couldn’t SHOW my student what to do.

The worst part was that I couldn’t pinpoint the problem. Was it my body? My hands? Exhaustion? Disinterest? Lack of confidence?

Luckily, I am surrounded every day with a handful of professionals along with a couple of superb amateur golfers. We talked it through. I told them how I felt. They watched me. They gave me my to-do list, everyone’s recommendations along the same lines.

Day 1 I struggled, but there were less shanks. Day 2 I struggled, but the shanks were gone. Days 3 and 4 I struggled, and quite honestly, I knew I hadn’t yet pinpointed the issue. Day 5, after some more struggle and mediocre practice, I decided to try something.

As a reminder, I am forty years old and I have arthritis, which places certain limitations on what my body can do. As such, one of my biggest weaknesses in my golf game has been an almost nonexistent shoulder turn. My teachers and mentors have told me this for years. If you fix this, you’re game will go to another level. Finally fed up, I told myself to really focus on this. Make huge, crazy huge shoulder turns and see what happens.

I played six holes. I birdied one and had tap in pars on the other five. It was quite honestly some of the best golf I’ve ever played. I was completely reenergized. This has to be the answer.

The next day I shot a one over par 37, and I can sleep soundly with that number.

I have a lot of work in front of me and even more questions. When I wake up in the morning, I am stiff and sore. When I finish working at the course, I am stiff and sore. When will I play? When will I sufficiently stretch? How will I make sure my body is ready to perform at a high level, as a professional’s body should? Gone now are the days of just walking outside with limited stretching, playing like I am fifteen years old.

But that’s okay. It’s just another evolution along the journey. Quality over quantity. Quality over quantity. It’s always been a part of Brand Benj. It’s always been a part of abk World. It’s now time to apply it to abk Golf and all of my golf aspirations.

Have a great week.-Benj

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