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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Don't Be a Slave to the Card and Pencil

I've been struggling on the course lately. I am struggling physically, with back and neck issues; and I've been struggling when trying to score. Instead of hoping to give Old Man Par a run for his money, I'm now finding myself just hoping to break 80. 

I've lost so much distance off the tee that I'm wearing out my longer irons and woods. My short irons are gathering dust except for the occasions when I miss a green. I played a round the other day and realized that I had not used less than a six iron for a second shot to a par four, or from the tee on any par threes. I did not hit an eight, nine iron or pitching wedge for eighteen holes. 

Obviously, scoring becomes much more difficult under these circumstances and it can be hard not to get discouraged. However, the reality is that things are not likely going to improve for me physically. Therefore, I'm either going to have to adjust my expectations, and change my attitude, or take up bridge.

As usual, when looking for advice, I read something from Bobby Jones that I think applies to my situation and to all golfers in general. In his book Bobby Jones on Golf, Bobby wrote:

    "The continual striving to improve our score, although entirely natural, nevertheless does distract to some extent from our ability to enjoy golf. When we become slaves to the card and the pencil, we become inclined to regard as total losses those rounds in which our score mounts beyond our reasonable expectancy. When we take pleasure in the game only according to the scorecard, a bad start is likely to put entirely away the possibility of an enjoyable afternoon.
     The real way to enjoy playing golf is to take pleasure not in the score, but in the execution of the strokes. A brassie shot to the green can be just as interesting when played after a recovery from trouble as when it follows a perfect drive. By cultivating this attitude, one finally comes to welcome unusual situations, in which there is a possibility of pulling off something a little out of the ordinary. And again, such an attitude in itself brings better results because it maintains interest and keeps one trying to the end."

A good attitude won't have me hitting 290 yard drives again. A good attitude won't have me necessarily breaking par again. But a good attitude towards the playing of the game and the executing of difficult shots will have me enjoying the game again instead of returning home aching, tired, and discouraged. I have to keep in mind that the next shot just might be one of the best I've ever hit. At least it could be if I don't give up.

Why just yesterday I was playing alone and hitting to a 145 yard par three. It was a back pin to a green that drops off sharply. The shot called for a fade and the distance actually called for my five iron. I hit a perfect fading five iron that just missed going in and stopped four feet from the pin. I heard clapping and realized that a fellow walking his dog had seen the shot and appreciated it. I told him I thought it was going in and that I already had two holes in one while playing alone and didn't particularly want another unwitnessed one. 

So, I could either feel good about a perfect-for-me, 145-yard five iron, or I could be discouraged and lament that it once would have been a nine iron. I was actually encouraged. And I made the damned putt!