Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Aftermath of the State Am Thoughts...

I wanted to thank everybody for the kind words and advice after the disappointing FSGA Am qualifier. However, I did want to give some of my thoughts on the subject because as usual, nothing is really black and white in the game of golf. It’s always filled with complexities and intricacies that take a good deal of effort to come close to fully understanding.

When I was a junior golfer, the sentiment from friends and family in times of ‘golf failure’ was very much the same. What’s difficult is that when a competitive golfer does not meet their expectations in the game many people are kind enough to lend a lot of sympathy. But what often happens is that it starts to be treated like there was a death in the family more than a situation where the outcome was disappointing. On the other hand, the LAST thing any competitive golfer who works very hard at improving their ability wants to hear is ‘hey, it’s only a game.’ While true, I think it’s important for others to understand the fact that the game may mean a lot to the individual and there’s nothing really wrong with that.

Personally, I had a lot of nerves going on as I teed it up at Metrowest. But after the first tee shot, which was horrendous, the nerves were not really a problem. That does not mean that I treated the tournament as unimportant or that I ‘gave up’ after taking a triple-bogey on my first hole. I think I was not as nervous because I was able to put the game and the qualifier in a perspective that I was comfortable with.

Recently, I had a father of a promising junior golfer ask me questions about his son possibly getting a golf scholarship. The father was frustrated for his son because his son had been close to winning some tournaments, but a mistake here or there took him out of contention and he was worried that it may cost his son a scholarship down the road. I wound up telling him how I believed that the people that the junior golfers who truly love the game of golf and for what it is will wind up being the better golfers in the end. And I felt that it’s important to separate those golfers who truly love the game versus those golfers who are more in love with being successful in the game and love what rewards that success can bring them.

That’s why I feel so many ‘the next big thing’ junior golfers have flamed out over the years. They were more in love with being successful in golf than golf in itself. Down the line they were BOUND to face up against talented golfers who could beat them and when that success was no longer there, they stopped doing whatever it took to make them a better golfer. The golfers who truly love the game continue to work to improve because they love getting better or even the possibility of getting better.

And that’s what the FSGA Amateur qualifier was for me. I wanted to do well in the FSGA qualifier. I wanted to shoot 65 and beat the field like a drum. But I never felt that I had to do well in the FSGA qualifier because all that is, along with my goal of one day making the match play of the US Amateur, is reaping the rewards of being successful in golf. And that is fine to want in life. But, it is not *why* I play the game of golf and why I love it so much.

I love to play the game of golf for various reasons. I love to see myself get better in every aspect of the game. I love to discover new things whether it be swing mechanics, green reading, equipment, etc. I love experiencing the outdoors. I love playing golf with my dad and enjoying the moments when he does well. Golf is like a video game that never gets old and never repeats itself. It’s those complexities and intricacies that can be so difficult to deal with that always keep the game some interesting and appealing to the mind. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how many golfers tend to be unable to define what the game means to them. I think those who have lofty expectations for themselves and take it hard when they fail don’t quite understand that just because you are passionate about something, it does not define completely define you as a person. And I think people in general tend to think that way and that’s why they tend to act like a golfer’s lack of success is either like a ‘death in the family’ or they will try to patronize the golfer with ‘it’s only a game.’

It reminds me of the movie ‘Rudy’ where his friend, Pete, tells him that ‘dreams are what make life tolerable.’ I think that is a better perspective of what accomplishing goals in a game that is not your profession is really about. It’s just one of those things that spark interest in your life and allow you to aspire to achieve things you have always wanted. To me, without dreams…regardless of how silly they may be…would lead to one boring and intolerable life.

In the end, a story is always better when there are some bumps in the road. As long as I surround myself with good people and keep an open mind about learning the game, I’ll do alright.

Here are a couple of videos about Moe Norman that I think those who have not seen them will enjoy.


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