Two weeks ago, walking nine holes of golf with my husband, I angrily threw my sand wedge, almost hitting him.
“You can’t do that!” Ron said as I marched off in a rage.
“I’m done. Play the rest yourself!”
Within seconds of my grand exit, I realized my dilemma. Walking off of hole six and making eye contact with a player coming off the tee box on seven, I had nowhere to go. To get home, I must walk past the foursome in front of us and the foursome in front of them just to get off the golf course. No other options existed. If I walked through the neighborhood, I still had to walk past the foursome in front of us.
My pride wouldn’t let me.
And so, forced into the situation, I realized I couldn’t walk out on my husband or the game. I had to face them both.
No grand exits. Just honest truth.
Investing in our health, we recently joined our local golf club, but we must walk to make it economical. And so, we try to walk a minimum of nine holes twice a week. Paying in advance, we haven’t finished month one. In other words, we spent the money but only enjoy the benefit if we actually do it. And I don’t like giving money away, nor wasting it. Not when earning it requires so much effort, and money disappears as quickly as it comes.
Unfortunately, not only must I finish this round, but I still have twelve prepaid months from which I want to get my money’s worth.
I can’t quit.
Leading to one conclusion for me.
I must change.
For me to fulfill the commitment I made, my attitude must change. Because if every time I played golf, I acted like a child, not only would I not want to play. But people wouldn’t want to play with me. And I love spending time with my husband; however, the unrealistic expectations I placed on myself stopped me from appreciating the most important reason for my why, him.
Ron’s why I will commit to walking nine holes twice a week. He would say no if I asked him to go for a three-mile walk. However, he says yes if he gets to hit a little white ball while getting in steps.
So I began conversing with people about my dilemma, particularly my therapist. And I started listening to books about the mental side of the game. Which led me to stop keeping score for a while and just focus on the feel of the stroke. Not judging the outcome but staying in the moment, feeling the club lead your body through the stroke.
I hate not keeping score.
The urge to tally my strokes makes me realize the bondage I have to score. And so I’ve stopped for six rounds. Each time gets a little easier to let go, but I still struggle.
And I’ve started practicing more. I’ve begun to enjoy the club’s feel as you lift it behind your head, cocked, ready for service. Then the release as you allow the club head to drop, trusting it to do what God made it to do. Letting the tip of the club lead your body in a circular motion, effortlessly following along. Then finishing, arms extended, head high, balanced weight between both legs, watching the ball soar through the air. A sense of wonder overtakes me as I realize less of me and more of the club.
Which led me to Pause/Hit
Comparing tennis and golf, when serving a tennis ball, a pause exists between the time you toss the ball and hit it. As you wait for the ball to drop into the correct position, the body poises, ready to strike. My favorite part of the stroke happens when I feel my body in the pause position, waiting to explode.
Golf’s pause comes on the backswing. I’ve learned if I pause in that stance for a moment, feeling the weight transferred to my right leg, then let the club drop effortlessly, without my help, allowing it to lead, I hit my best shots. The less I try, the better I do.
Predetermining what I think of when hitting allows me to stop thinking, stop trying, stop judging, and start enjoying. Feeling the beauty of the golf swing and having the ability to play the sport brings joy. Nothing else matters.
Golf’s teaching me to not try so hard. Letting go leads to enjoyment. Allowing the club to do its job means release. Less effort equals greater rewards. Relaxed concentration comes from confident routines.
Life needs sport because, from it, we gain the experience of failing publicly. Humility keeps us from prideful mistakes. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Prideful moments become learning experiences when we seek to keep our hearts in line with God.