Behave, or Else: abk Trip 53-Cancún, México

When Christy invited me to Cancún in December, I had to think before I could answer. I am never one to turn down a trip, much less a partially paid for trip, but a few thoughts did run through my head. First, I had to wait and see if I was going to have a job interview that would potentially be in the Cancún trip timeframe (I didn’t). Second, would I ever actually see Christy, or since she had a conference, would I be alone most of the time? Last, would this be just like Las Vegas or Disney World, fabricated playgrounds built so Americans could escape and spend loads of cash? And what exactly did all-inclusive mean anyway? Was it a sham, or would it be brilliant? As with everything, I needed to find out for myself.

I arrived in México about four hours after Christy, and my premonition that I would be vacationing with a bunch of sun-seeking Americans immediately proved true. Not that I mind that, but when I go to Mexico, Italy, Iceland, England, Canada, etc., my personal interest is in interacting with the locals. So no sooner had the Mexico stamp ink dried on my Passport, I told myself I was going to need to venture out from Zona Hotelera (tourist area) sooner rather than later.

I am fairly certain that going to fancy country clubs does not qualify as interacting with locals, but a day without golf is like a day without air, so first things first. Right now, one of my favorite things to do is head to a new golf course and take it all in, sharing my golf story and listening to others’ throughout the day. One of the side effects of being houseless, jobless, and playing golf 200 days last year is that most people, from the clubhouse waiter to the cart guy to the millionaire CEO, become interested. How? What? Why? To be honest, I’ve grown a little weary talking about myself, so I try to shift the focus. Where are you from? Do you have children? What do you and/or they like to do?

On Thursday, I played 36 holes at El Tinto Golf Course at Cancún Country Club, and on Friday, I played 18 more at Riviera Cancún. I do not know if it was the time of year, windy conditions, or something else, but I pretty much had both beautiful courses to myself. This would make some people lonely, but not me. This gave me free reign to play quickly and also to talk to every single local Mexican citizen that I could. Tell me about your family. Tell me about your favorite things to do. Tell me what makes you happy. Tell me why it is so 🤬windy.

The wind really was a dilemma both days. A random coin toss had a 50/50 chance to tell me which way the 40mph breeze was blowing, if said wind didn’t blow the coin away first. Needless to say, I left more than a few balls in the Mexican jungle, although I was quite pleased with my play for the majority of the 54 holes.

Speaking of the jungle, I really didn’t have the course to myself. Iguanas, colorful birds, and a special treat, protected coatis that tried to hijack my cart, were gallivanting all over the place, reminding me of my tiny place in the universe. The only thing missing were crocodiles and monkeys, or else I would have been completely smitten.

My favorite moment with Christy, no matter how brief, was lunch on Friday at La Cevichería, an open air bar and fish taco joint overlooking the massive waves crashing on the beach. She had a brief break, so we enjoyed fish and shrimp tacos, shrimp cocktail, and piña coladas midday. (As with everything I do these days, this further reinforced my desire to live, work, and play outside.)

I did experience one disappointment just prior to the trip. Atlante FC, the second division Mexican soccer team based in downtown Cancún, was scheduled to open their 2020 season Friday night at home. Leading up to the trip, I was buzzing. There is nothing I love more than taking in a game on foreign soil and immersing myself in the usually colorful local game day traditions. However, a couple of days before, I noticed that the game had been postponed and the season would not start until the following week. Damn. Oh well, nothing I could do about that, though I wanted to call the league and plead with them to change it back.

Instead, on Friday morning, I hopped a cab to downtown to go explore Estadio Olímpico Andrés Quintana Roo for myself. We arrived at the stadium and pulled into the parking lot, only to be greeted with locked gates and an unimpressed security guard. I told my cabbie that I would not be able to effectively negotiate a trip inside with my mediocre Spanish, so I kindly asked that he do so on my behalf. He agreed, and asked me to wait in the car. A moment later, he gave me the universal head nod and smile, and I leapt out of the car like an overexcited teenager on a first date. I asked my driver to hold tight, and then I thanked and greeted the security guard with a warm American howdy. “Gracias. Hola. Buenos dias.”

He walked me down to row 1, asked for my Passport, and then in a myriad of quick, short, and very direct Spanish phrases basically said, “Behave, or else.”

Misbehaving in a downtown Mexican city is not recommended, so I indeed behaved. He allowed me to feed my love for stadium architecture, taking in the wild, bright colors of this particular venue. I breathed it in, took some pictures and videos, and then was on my way.

But before I left, I had one more thing to do. In as quality of Spanish as I could remember from high school and college, Mexico City and Tijuana, I turned to the gentleman and thanked him. I told him he didn’t have to do this, and that it made my day. He visibly perked up, smiled, and we talked for a minute. I told him I behaved, he laughed and handed me my Passport back, and I walked out of the front gate giving him a very personal head nod and smile.

I never stepped foot on the beach. I snuck in a quick read by the pool Saturday morning before the flight. I shared a handful of meals with Christy. But my trip, my memory of Cancún, will be the golf course attendants, cab drivers, and security guards that went above and beyond to help me have a really personalized, unique experience.

A good smile can say please (shout out Banks Bostic), but it can also say thank you. And I dropped a lot of the latters this week. These kind folks were my companions this trip, and they made it pretty darn good.

Have a great week.-Benj

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2017-2020: From Destin to Natchez and Everywhere in Between

“I’ve never seen any transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting sick of their own bullshit.”-The Good Agency

This quote may seem harsh to start off the new year, but as someone who has undergone an almost three year self-imposed transformation, it speaks to me.

In your face? Sure. My kind of style? Absolutely. 100% true? Dead on.

Though I have an immense focus on continued growth and evolution in 2020, I feel the transformation phase is coming to a close. It was a battle. Lots of deep thoughts. Lots of tough questions. Lots of Come to Jesus meetings with myself. (Also, lots of travel. 52 wonderful, eye opening trips and a major relocation to date.)

I accomplished so much in the transformation phase. There were no traditional accolades or awards. Quite the opposite actually. I simply completely, and somewhat quietly, changed my life. (Better than a trophy, really.)

So now it is time to keep moving forward, and since this is the time of year most people throw out resolutions that some have already broken twelve days into the new year, I thought I would give you an insight into my goals and how I think.

(I woke up Saturday morning dreaming vividly about a book title and what the opening sentence of said book should be. That’s when I knew it was time.)

1. I will begin writing my book about the abk golf journey this month.

2. After months of toiling primarily solo on the golf course, I will compete as much as possible. I played my first two competitions last week, kicking off a new era of pressure with a decent 78.

3. I must INVEST in the tools needed to achieve my golf goal. I have always been a bargain shopper when it comes to golf as the equipment is so damn expensive, but multiple true golf folks have now told me it is time.

4. It is time to find a place to live. That process has started, and I am confident it will be a real coastal gem to enjoy later on this year.

5. I must get even more serious about my health. It will always be a battle with my ankylosing spondylitis, but with the amount of time I spend on my feet and the force I impose on my body daily, extra care is an absolute necessity.

6. Teach for America- I mentioned this a month or so ago, but unfortunately, I was informed last week that I did not fit the mold for the ideal candidate. While disappointed at first, I know this means something even better will open up.

7. Having said that, I am almost ready to put my business brain back on. Travel is expensive. Golf is expensive. Health insurance is expensive. What’s the next opportunity? Remember, I didn’t retire. I was just busy changing my life.

8. Last, but certainly not least, travel. I think everyone should do it as much as humanly possible. To different places. With different people. My life was changed by a myriad of different experiences and people, but nothing shaped my new and improved outlook on the world as much as traveling to new places and talking to complete strangers, many of whom are now good friends.

The number one thing I learned in 2019 was patience. Turns out, many of my personal goals are long term. They take time. I can’t skip steps. I can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. I have to focus on them daily. Act on them daily. Turn them into a habit or r-r-r-routine, no matter how much I hate that word. The goals are the bright lights, but the real “oomph” is the daily behavior.

The only reason I can now compete semi-confidently in an arena where I was formerly a complete outsider (and probably always will be) is because I grinded every day in that hot ass sun. The only reason I have so many wonderful stories and learnings to share is because I went and traveled. The only reason I have anything to write about is because I went and DID.

Alright. It’s 2020, but just more of the same from me. Doing. Action. Etc. 😴 No one else is going to do it for you, nor should they.

I’m off to Mexico this week for abk Trip # 53. Stay tuned on Instagram throughout the week, and read all about it next Sunday.

Have a great week, and get after it.-Benj

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2019: Rocking the Boat, Rewriting the Rules, and The Ultimate Tradeoff

“When you have a goal like this, it has to be an obsession. For better or worse, everything else takes a back seat. You are basically trying to win the lottery.” – Comedian Nate Bargatze

What changed in 2019? Everything.

In 2019, I slept in my own bed for only 36 nights. I had 4 major injuries (foot, hip, lower back, upper back). I explored 22 states and Mexico. I golfed in 12 states and Mexico. I travelled roughly 30,000 miles. I played or practiced golf 194 days. In 8.5 months, I shaved 12.7 strokes off of my average score (94 to 81.3) and 8.7 strokes off of my handicap (14 to 5.3). My best score was 74 (last Thursday), and I shoot in the 70s regularly now. I had only 2 haircuts. After March 22, I got dressed up twice.

I currently own neither khakis nor jeans nor lots of other things that are simply not necessary at this time in my journey.

My love for style has not dwindled one bit. I’ve just replaced pinstripe suits with floral hoodies and golf clothes.

Plantar fasciitis is a big, bad bitch.

Watching the savings account go backwards instead of forwards is not for the faint of heart.

There’s good debt. There’s bad debt. And there’s no debt. The latter is freedom.

“You definitely want a little spice in your life. But too much can be unpalatable.”- Golfer Phil Mickelson

Travel thoughts right now? Definitely=Dallas and Natchez. Maybe=Mexico. Wish list=Detroit.

Cost of living difference from uptown Charlotte to Mississippi? Extreme.

I carry cash now. Casino town.

“Rare to find an educated, qualified professional who works only when he needs money, then quits his job when it’s time to be moving along, chasing tournaments like they’re roaming buffalo.”-Author Tom Coyne

Someone may look happy but actually be miserable. Someone may have a lot of friends but actually be lonely. Someone may appear to have it together but actually be broken. Been there. Done that.

Look to your left. Look to your right. You have no idea.

Something that is super simple or easy for you may be very difficult for me, and vice versa.

I absolutely love being a father, but I’ve really had to work at it.

“…what she considered success I considered failure.”-DJ Harvey

What are you interested in? Are you pursuing it? If not, why?

From a traditional financial standpoint, I took 9 months off. From every other standpoint, I was ON IT every single day. I made a massive investment in myself and the trajectory of my (and others’) future.

Early on, almost every day, I doubted or questioned myself. What am I doing? Being intentional felt selfish. Being so different felt weird.

“Pressure is a privilege.” -Billie Jean King

I voluntarily moved to a place where so many people believe the complete opposite of what I do.

I hope Christy and Banks are happy. That is a massive part of this.

You don’t have to pretend in New Orleans.

I love stuff that tastes good and looks good. Those are my vices.

Mountain Dew is my Jack Daniels. BBQ is my drug of choice.

I eat 20% of my meals at gas stations now.

“The journey doesn’t really start until things go sideways.”-Patrick Koenig, Joe Garvey

Coaching four year old soccer will teach you to let go. Otherwise, you might have a heart attack.

abk has no financial goal. Only impact.

Over 11,000 different people have read along at at some point. Some read once and never return. Some read periodically. Some read every week.

I’m finally finding my community. It spans all over the country. Fits me perfectly.

I’m not the same person on days I don’t get to play golf.

I shot 75 last Friday and was not happy at all. I think this says something about me.

Actions dictate results. Attitude dictates luck.

Stuff is overrated and mostly unnecessary.

I feel like I’ve lived three full lifetimes over the past few years. I know how lucky I am.

I walked into Tijuana and played golf. That was crazy.

Every day is an opportunity to shoot the best score of my life. I’ve done it twice in December.

Sunshine is the best medicine.

Southern Mississippi at sunset is absolutely stunning.

You and I have a lot to be thankful for. Just trust me. I’ve seen some things.

My biggest struggle? I am wildly independent, but I’m working on it.

There are a zillion different worlds out there. Go find the one you want to live in.

The biggest travel surprise of the year was either southwestern Oklahoma; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; or Bryant, Alabama.

I have a hard time listening to people who have no frame of reference for what I am trying to do. It’s so much bigger than golf, likes, and follows. It’s impact. It’s lives. It’s happiness.

At the end of the day, I’m going to do it the abk way.

Vision can get ruined by focusing too much on taking out the trash.

Having said that, the trash still has to be taken out.

“Everything you can imagine is real.” -Pablo Picasso

I’ve become a Pelicans fan, but I’m definitely not a Saints fan. Drew Brees is class, though.

What scares me? Wanting independence and getting loneliness. Also, completely losing my health.

Health insurance costs are insane.

I would rather make the wrong decision than no decision at all. A million times over.

No excuses. Just own it.

“It’s my secret love to read the blog every week…I just won’t admit it in public of course.” -Anonymous friend via text

What’s most important to me? Action. Patience. Mindset. Attitude. Self-awareness. Freedom. Acceptance.

I like seeing alligators every day, but I also love wearing alligator belts. I struggle with that.

It is incredibly hard to build something from scratch.

We are all on a journey. I wasn’t put on earth to be a banker, though maybe I was for that period of time.

I’m 951 days into my conscious journey of living. I’m just a baby.

Biggest win of my journey so far? Becoming human.

The answer is still always yourself. But a helping hand never hurts.

These pictures from Torrey Pines in California, Tijuana Country Club, and Sand Hollow in Utah are my favorite golf images of the year.

A massive thank you to my family, friends, various landlords (lol), biggest supporters, golf buddies, travel mates, doctors, rehab team, and golf crew at Shell Landing.

2020 resolutions? Keep living. Inspire others to do the same.

I’ll be back in a few weeks. Enjoy your holidays.-Benj

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There’s No Substitute for Doing

“Actions speak louder than words.”- overused, but accurate, expression

Well, it’s the end of the year. Hell, it’s the end of the decade. I don’t really know what that means to me except that next week, I will share my annual favorite quotes, learnings, and experiences. But first…

I lived a dream this year. And I’ve got great news…it ain’t ending just yet. Actually, in some ways, it is just beginning.

I’ve been on this journey for just over 2.5 years now (8 months 100% all in), and year 1 laid the groundwork for year 2, year 2 for year 3, and year 3 for what I am anticipating to be a tittilating year 4.

And do you want to know what one of my biggest secrets is that I really, really want to share? At the very beginning, I had no idea what the hell I was doing!!!! At all!!! Whatsoever!!! I was scared just like everyone else!

Okay, back to our golf voices. Seriously, you can call it leaving the comfort zone or faith or whatever. All I knew is that I wanted something different, like really different, and I was hellbent on making it happen.

I had no training in fashion or writing or photography or golf, but I wanted to learn. What did I want to be in this life? How did I want to go about being it?

Did I want to actually travel extensively or just say I was an avid traveler and talk bullshit? Was traveling a skill? Could I get better? Could I enjoy it more?

This was going to be a totally different world from the cushy, luxurious banking world where I wore beautiful suits and Italian shoes and took in a large guaranteed paycheck with excellent benefits.

This was 100 degree Mississippi days with an aching back, hips, and feet, bouncing around in tiny temporary living quarters, paying my own exorbitantly priced health insurance, and working daily for no pay to begin inching towards the world in which I one day wanted to live.

Though not for the faint of heart in 2019, experiencing certain things can be much more enjoyable when the prospect of monetary gain is not involved, even if only for a short period of time. It was beautiful to stop, reset, and become fully intentional.

On the style front, I wore whatever I wanted. On the writing front, I wrote whatever I felt needed to be said. On the photography front, I captured real beauty. On the travel front, I immersed myself in as many new, real places as humanly possible.

But the real focus somehow evolved into golf. I honestly didn’t see that coming. And while golf travel, buddy trips, golf architecture, and meeting new golf friends were all awesome, my focus was to get good. Pretending anything else would be misleading.

So I spent varying degrees of every day since April 17, 2019 focusing on getting better. And 10 days ago, I took that next step. I hired a PGA Pro to work with, and soon after, I shot my best round ever, a 75 from the tips that culminated with a knee-knocking birdie on 18. That’s getting close to real golf, homies. Now, after posting 11 rounds in the 70s in the past two months, it’s time to rinse and repeat exclusively.

As I reflect on the end of a year, a decade, an era (if we want to sound romantic), one thing stands out to me.

That I was once an inexperienced dreamer with grand, untested ideas. That because I liked style and clothes so much, people would take me seriously on a variety of subjects just because of the way I was dressed. (That’s the genius of fashion and sometimes the curse to its wearers.)

I wasn’t inexperienced at everything. I was genuinely good at soccer, forging real relationships, and finance, to name a few. But there were others, like golf, that I received some kind of credibility simply because my stylish clothes perfectly hugged my (now not so) slender frame. (Shout out Cajun cooking.)

No more. Everything I write, unless stated otherwise, is from actual experience. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. I’ve lived it. I’m now an experienced doer, though still green on so many things.

I love doing the work. I love writing, photographing, traveling, and documenting my golf journey extensively. Daily. Though I may take a brief personal hiatus to start the year, the focus is not going to change. I keep telling myself that with continued work, there may be something out there that even I couldn’t dream, which is mind blowing.

Bluntly, I think New Year’s resolutions are goofy. They are a great excuse to put something off until next year or to start something because it’s popular in the mainstream, and then quit when it’s not.

So how about this. On May 15, 2017 (random date), I published an article about fashion and first impressions, and this article launched my fashion, writing, photography, travel, and golf journey.

What, you may ask, does that article have to do with getting good at golf? Not a damn thing. Not one damn thing.

And that’s how journeys work. You take that scary first step. You leap. You bob. You weave. You keep at it. And then one day, you shoot 75 from the tips in Mississippi, of all places. Then, miraculously, it all turns into something way more meaningful than golf.

Final 2019 thoughts next week.

Have a great week.-Benj

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A Healthy Helping of Kindness

A lot happened this week, and I don’t know what I should tell you. Maybe I should tell you that I formally applied for Teach for America for the Fall 2020 school year, a potential opportunity to teach, coach, and inspire teenagers in low-income areas (more to come). Maybe I should tell you that I touched a computer for the first time in eight months, needing to be reminded how simply to turn it on. Maybe I should tell you that I met a complete stranger Tuesday who had me playing as his partner at one of the nicest courses in America not 24 hours later. For free. Or maybe I should tell you that I began my work with the PGA Pro on Thursday, putting in motion an exciting journey for the upcoming weeks and months. (I shot the best score of my life Saturday. 75. From the tips.)

But those don’t make the cut this week. I had a moment last Monday. A real human moment. And since not all of us here are golfers, but we are all humans trying to be just a little better, this one stays. Enjoy.

One of the reasons I love to travel to real places is because it helps me feel what’s real. The exciting, the heartbreaking, and everything in between. The exciting reminds me that I am alive. The in between gives me a sense of normalcy. But the heartbreaking really opens my eyes (and sometimes makes them tear up).

The heartbreaking takes my focused, sometimes aloof attitude and puts it in check. It silences me. It humbles me. It humanizes me. But most of all, it makes me question what I have done to be in my place and what someone else has done to be in theirs. There is always an answer, but it’s not the one you think.

I am lucky, and maybe you are too.

Last Monday, a cold front rolled into the Deep South. It was about 45 degrees with 35mph winds, but I’m dedicated, so the course beckoned. Warming up on the driving range directly into the wind, I hit wedge after wedge as the sand beneath the soil blew hard into my eyes.

That was enough of that, so I moseyed on over to the first tee, unsure of what was about to happen. Fast forward some five hours and 36 holes later, and I was fried (or frozen). Annoyed didn’t begin to describe it. The wind gusts had taken all of the moisture out of the greens, and putts just wouldn’t stop. It was like the US Open at Shinnecock Hills a couple of years ago, even on the uphill putts. I wanted to Phil Mickelson it more than a couple of times.

As I ended the round(s) with, miraculously, a more than acceptable score for playing in a hurricane, this is what I thought to myself. Was this a complete waste of time?

So, as I typically do, I called my dad to discuss the day. But this time, it was to vent.

Still slightly agitated from The Great Tornado of 2019, I needed to stop by the local grocery store to grab a couple of items: bottled water, toilet paper, chewy nerds, lemon Oreos, more gummies, and Sunkist orange soda. The necessities, you know.

I didn’t get a buggy, holding the case of bottled water and using it as a base. As I walked toward the checkout area with sugary nonsense piled up to my chin, I eyeballed what I thought was the shortest line, still two or three people deep. As I approached a young Hispanic couple with their toddler, the father cleared his items off the conveyor belt so that I could set down my gaggle of frivolous bullshit. He was a handsome young man probably thirty years old, and I thanked him for his gesture.

I waited my turn as he and his family checked out, only to be shaken internally when I saw him pay for their dinner with literal nickels and pennies. Before I could process what I was seeing, the transaction was complete, and they were off to enjoy a modest family meal together in, hopefully, some place warm.

Just minutes earlier, I had been bothered by having to play 36 holes in less than desirable weather. On a Monday. And let’s not forget, this is not even my living, this is a project.

And then, though the toilet paper and water (maybe) were necessities, the remaining items I was buying were excessive, fattening, gluttonous garbage.

Yet the young man, seemingly struggling to feed his family with actual dollar bills, saw me. He really saw me. And it brought a few of those tears.

I hear the terms “season of giving” and “season to be thankful” during this time of year, and I can’t help but admire its benevolent intent and even results, but squirm at its brutal seasonality.

Maybe someone got to their path via a correct decision. Maybe someone got to their path via an incorrect decision. Maybe someone was born into the correct family. Or maybe, just maybe someone simply got dealt a less than full hand of cards. Regardless, everyone deserves to be seen. Every day. I’ve been reminded of this over and over during the past few years in my travel, over and over during the past few months in Mississippi, and then again Monday.

I hope I see this young man again some time in the near future. The town isn’t that big. I want to let him know that I see him too and tell him again how thankful I was of his kind gesture.

But until then, I’ll remind myself daily of a few things. That I’m lucky. Very lucky. That I’m thankful. That I need to do better at seeing everyone. And not just from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Have a great week.-Benj

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abk Golf: Dialed In

My, how things have changed. Some eight to nine months ago, my average golf score was 94. Now? 81.1. Am I pleased? That’s a great question.

Let me be the first to acknowledge the absurdity of all of this. That while everyone else in the world is seemingly doing something that matters, I am playing golf. 176 days so far in 2019. And not just pop in and hit a few balls kind of days, more like play 27-36 holes kind of days.

I arrive to the course whenever my elderly body allows me to now, and I leave when it gets dark. That may be 4 hours. It may be 6. I am currently nursing right elbow tendinitis and go to physical therapy twice a week for my tender right foot and ankle. Otherwise, I cannot believe my body has held up. As a necessity, I stretch about every three minutes. I also must burn a zillion calories per day because I eat everything in sight. Put it in front of me, and I’ll eat it. Put it near me, and I’ll eat it. Show it to me on a commercial, and I’ll go get it.

I think about it all the time. Food? Well, yes. But I’m talking about golf. I’m completely immersed in it. I read articles, watch videos, and interact via social media. But most importantly, I play. There is no substitute for it. The other stuff is just entertainment.

In golf, playing is the only way to get better. In golf, actually doing the work is the only way to get better. There are no shortcuts. No fancy tricks. I’ve tried.

In the eight to nine months I’ve been working, I have had to hit every rung on the ladder. Get worse first then a little better. Then a little better. Then a lot better. Then plateau. Then bust through. Then get a little better. Then get worse. Lose some confidence. Get frustrated. Then turn another corner.

I just turned another corner. But first, I plateaued and even took a few steps backwards. I got my handicap down to 4.9 a few weeks ago but have seen it rise to 6.7 currently. That’s okay (and probably accurate) as I’ve once again been working on my right hand grip that one day, I swear, will be correct.

The process gets tedious. Tiresome. Frustrating. But I remind myself every day that there are no shortcuts. Make the changes. Do the work. Keep focused.

Over the past two weeks, I broke 80 five times and posted 80 on the number two other times. The mindset now when I leave the house is break 80 or else. And really, it’s not just break 80, it’s more like shoot 76-78 now. I just did it three days in a row.

Though it wasn’t an initial goal of mine, I’m now dialed in on getting my average score below 80. Focusing on my handicap is still great, but if I can get my average score below 80, the handicap will take care of itself. Handicap is a measure of potential. Average is a measure of hardcore, no frills math.

I’ve got 31 seemingly 70 degree Mississippi days left to work in 2019. If I could drop that average from 81.1 to 79.9 in that time period (which is certainly doable), I would consider the 2019 golf progress a major success. From 94 to 79.9 in nine months in a category measuring quality and consistency? Yes, please. I’ll have that along with three burgers and three tacos.

Next Wednesday, I start my work with the PGA Professional. It’s time to get serious. I’ve slowly worked from a baseball grip to a strong grip to a semi-strong grip, and it’s now time to get it right once and for all. I MUST get the driver in the fairway more often, and I need to add a couple more creative shots around the green to my arsenal.

But overall, I am pleased. Very pleased, thanks for asking. It’s been a ton of fun and a ton of work, but I’m genuinely happy with the progress. If I can get to where I know deep down in my soul that I can shoot 75 on a good day and 78 on a bad day, I will take the next step. But I’m not there yet. Last Friday with my father, I hit the ball right, righter, and further righter-er-er. And then Monday, I hit four balls in the water on the last two holes to ruin a rather ho-hum but more than acceptable round. But it’s brewing.

Next step? Sure. Sign up for some local tournaments. Reach out to tell my story to some golf industry folks. Write a book.

Write a book? Yeah. I’ve kept copious notes just for that purpose. Every. Single. Day.

It’s about the daily grind, not some specific end goal, and I’m not going to tell you again.

(Actually, I probably will. Lots. Maybe in a book.)

Have a great week.-Benj

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Rescripting the Score

I’m a wigwam. I’m a teepee. I’m a wigwam. I’m a teepee.

The problem is you are two tents.– courtesy of an ancient adage (or silly joke)

That was my problem. Two tents. Too tense. Or better yet, too intense. One speed. A million miles a minute. Inherently, there was nothing wrong with that. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t enjoy everything I was “accomplishing”. Too tense. Too driven? So when I couldn’t even enjoy my biggest wins, there was indeed a problem. Hi. My name is Benj, and I have a problem.

I needed to chill out. I wanted to be more laid back. Needed to be more laid back. I needed to be able to enjoy myself and my surroundings more. More west coast than east coast. More Tupac than Biggie. I didn’t want drugs. I didn’t want a tranquilizer dart. I needed to do the work. I wanted to do the work.

I had to do something. So off I went.

Fundamentally, can we rewire ourselves? That was my curious question. Is it even possible? And I have to tell you, the answer is emphatically MAYBE! That’s why I now understand that the journey trumps the destination.

By pure coincidence, it was a twelve minute drive from our cabin that we rented two weekends ago to Sweetens Cove Golf Club. If you haven’t heard of it, check Forbes, The New York Times, or most recently, Sports Illustrated. Located in tiny South Pittsburg, TN just off I-24, it possesses all of the magic of 2019 and beyond. It IS the future of golf.

Be forewarned, it would be VERY different from your normal golf experience. Just be ready.

For first timers, the experience starts with a complimentary shot of Tennessee whiskey. (Though I don’t particularly care for whiskey, I gleefully imbibed.) Also prior to the round, I bought a Waffle House style visor from The Shed, their tiny, rustic, nondescript version of a clubhouse. (I don’t wear visors.) I don’t know what had gotten into me. It was madness, and the actual golf hadn’t even begun.

Buzzing from the brown sauce, I hit my opening tee shot right down the middle, and we were off. On Saturday, I played 13 holes with my brother in law, Jonathan, and a stranger from Charlottesville, VA also named John. On Monday (oh yes, I returned Monday), I played 18 holes with some combination of the following: a young couple from Birmingham, their dog, my 4 year old son, a bro from Atlanta, and a bro from Nashville. And at the risk of undue superlative, they were two of the more enjoyable days of golf in my young golf life.

The course is only 9 holes, but with 2 flags on each massive green and 4 tee boxes on each hole, the combinations are endless. Play 9. Play 18. Play 13, like I did.

There are barrels on the course that house liquid surprises. Maybe a water. Maybe a beer. I found a Mountain Dew.

There was an eightsome in front of us. There was an eightsome behind us. And yet, the pace of play was lightning fast.

The fourth green is roughly 20,000 square feet. Beware of the roller coaster ride.

No traditional clubhouse. No bathrooms until recently. No beverage cart. No fuss. No stuffiness. No BS.

Country music blaring, of course.

In the Sports Illustrated article, the course architect and designer Rob Collins said, “ …lots of architects…placed a lot of self-imposed rules on themselves…all this BS that doesn’t mean anything. It’s just made-up rules that people are putting on themselves.”

That obviously resonated with me as I am almost three years into this journey of burden removal that is so freeing. You know, those made-up rules that I placed on myself. Two tents. Too tense. Too intense.

On the Monday, I shot an 82 (with 9,000 rollicking putts) that felt like a 65. This usually would be the definitive note on whether this was a good day or not. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t even in the first paragraph of the conversation. Which was different for me.

It’s almost like the rewiring is working.

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow along on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis and @abkgolf.

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