I can skin a rattlesnake. I own a giant hairy scorpion and a big curly haired tarantula as pets. I have photographed my face next to a rotted Javelina carcass. I can do all of that and still not get the shock that I do when I say I enjoy golf.
Golf?!? Wha?? You golf? Since when???
I guess it’s more believable that I am spiritual and weirdly sensitive to energy or that I’m slightly off and who knows what I’m up to. Everyone seems good with that. But the visual of me on a golf course, for some, is as foreign as me in snow.
The high desert in CA where I grew up was not a hotbed of golf courses. I’m not sure there were maybe one or two local courses at the most. I don’t remember him playing or owning clubs yet growing up, golf was on T.V. every Sunday with my Dad holding the remote hostage. I knew all the top players’ names. I learned the scoring. I heard the whispering announcers tell us to watch in silence from our living rooms in another state because one peep could ruin the final putt for the win!
I hated it.
So, what changed? Why golf now? Why would someone like me choose a sport like golf?
Roughly 20 years ago I met Jay. The day we met I was coming home from Disneyland, he was coming home from golfing. He loves the sport. His addiction for golf took up where my Dads had left off.
With Jay now in my world I was again hearing the familiar sounds of the hushed announcers, but with new names and faces. It still didn’t make me run out and buy clubs. I did start playing here and there with whatever club Jay handed me but would rather be driving the cart.
My father had never encouraged me to play golf. Jay always has.
See, back then, my “why I was playing” was different. I wanted Jay to be proud of me out there. I wanted him and probably others to be impressed. My expectations where grossly misguided from years of only watching pros and never having watched real humans golf. It discouraged me horribly when I sucked at this very expensive “game”. Intimidated by the beauty and size of a real golf course and the very real water hazards in front of me, I felt embarrassed and extremely self-conscious.
Truth be told, most golfers hit balls everywhere and so do the pros. That’s why they yell “Fore!” But the T.V camera angles change your perception of what it’s really like to be out there. My head was so full of “watch the ball- stand like this- swing don’t miss-ohmygod are people watching” I surely didn’t enjoy it. Golf was frustrating, awful and long.
I wish I had known back then that Golf was exactly what my brain needed.
I’m creative. My brain goes all over the place randomly. As I have aged, and my hormones have started running amok, my brain and body have seen some not so enjoyable severe highs and lows. Oh sure, you can add chemicals to the mix and see what works or helps but meditation does not come in pill form. Meditation and exercise are top on any list of ways to help yourself heal.
My brain isn’t going to allow me to just sit idly and clear my thoughts. Oh no, it’s going to beat me up about not doing anything while I “just sit”. I have that mental issue that I think I have never done enough. Never good enough. My brain wants to be in constant motion to keep happy.
To play golf you need to be able to clear your mind. Shut out distractions. Focus. Visualize. Be the ball. Multitasking and golf do not go hand in hand. Life’s other bullshit cannot be anywhere near your brain.
The game of golf itself is simple right? Hit the ball with the metal stick into the cup. Go. You’re on your own. No one even keeps your score. It’s up to you to be honest.
I have good hand eye coordination yet can swing and miss a ball right in front of me. If I get mad about it, my swing will automatically become worse. If I can focus and find that small spot I can hit the ball. If my body relaxes it will flow and swing. If there is stress and tension my body will hit the ball wrong or simply miss altogether. So sure, it’s a “simple” game.
There is even Tai Chi for golf to help with the flow.
Honestly the minute I stopped playing golf for a score but rather for my peace of mind it all changed. The minute I accepted I was new and learning and took off all the expectations, my swing improved. My goal was no longer trying to impress. My goal had become much more personal. Golf was a tool I was using to make me feel better not to become famous.
Putting areas are free. I can practice whenever I want. I have my own driving range and mats at home or can go to any of the courses nearby to practice. I am outside, fresh air, green grass, walking, moving, and most importantly playing. I’m playing. It isn’t anything more than that.
Keep it simple. Don’t make it harder than it already is. Visualize where you are going. Don’t rush, you can walk there. The tranquility and the beauty of a golf course gives me a setting where challenging myself feels less like I’m under an attack.
I was only under attack before in my own mind.
Not so shocking that I golf.