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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Confidence

What sort of attitude should you have regarding your golf game and your fellow competitors? Once again, I think Bobby Jones nailed it. Paraphrasing the Master, he said that he recognized that his opponents were good players. His attitude was: "I know you're a good player, but if I play my hardest I just might beat you."

We saw Jordan Spieth come into the Masters with an interesting attitude. He was absolutely brimming with confidence. He, with his usual candor, had told the media that he thought the other players actually feared him at Augusta. At least that's what I read somewhere, as a certain President would say. Well, I guess a good number of the other players didn't get the memo, and Jordan fizzled on Sunday with, what was it, a 75? It's great to be confident in your abilities, but you never want to let your mouth make a fool of your face.

I had an interesting experience on my last day at Wachesaw East in Murrells Inlet, SC. I arrived to sign in along with a group of optometrists who had arranged a fun tournament. I was resplendent in purple, white, and black. There was a guy at the cash who definitely had the air of a golfer. He was asking the guy behind the counter about the possiblity of getting out early, and was told that he couldn't unless he joined the tournament.

A few friendly comments were made by the optometrists about this option, and this fellow turned and looked at us and, rather arrogantly, said, "I sure fancy my chances." He obviously felt that none of us were likely to give him much of a game. 

I didn't say anything, but hoped, since I was a single, that we would be paired together so we could find out whether he could beat me. I've been mistaken for many things in my day, but being an optometrist has, at least until this moment, never been one of those things. No disrespect intended to optometrists, but I would be much more likely to be taken for a thug than an optometrist. I'm, as my father would say, a big, ugly brute.

In any event, as luck would have it, I ended up being paired with this cocky fellow and his buddy. The wind was gusting to about thirty miles per hour, and I took this to be somewhat to my advantage because I hit it low and pretty straight. I also knew the course and where to miss it which would be especially important in the high wind.

It became quickly evident that my cocky friend could play--his long-hitting buddy not so much. The cocky fellow hit his first tee shot in the woods on the first hole and was fortunate to make bogey. I made an easy par.  However, as the round progressed my opponent settled down and I had a stretch of three three putts. By the turn, I figured he had me two down. 

But, as we made the turn I stopped three-putting, and kept hitting fairways. My opponent kept hitting it in the trees and I ended up on top by a couple of shots. My wife was walking with us and I had told her about what this fellow had said. That being the case, she took a real interest in whether I could beat him. She said afterwards that he had taken a few liberties as to where he took his drops in the trees, and he wasn't playing the ball down. But, regardless of whether I beat him by one, two, or ten, hopefully the point was made to him that you shouldn't be too confident about the outcome when you tee it up. There is always someone who, on any given day, will beat you. Even if you think he's an optometrist wearing purple.

Bobby Jones was the best player of his day. But he always gave his opponents their due. In this game, no one is unbeatable. That's what makes the game so interesting. Old age and treachery may not beat youth and skill every time. But it does sometimes.