Improving At Golf Is Like Improving At Life: Impossible After Awhile!
Golf is a taxing sport which requires a lot of practice, and a lot of patience. The first time I played golf was in the 8th grade with my father. Although I was the 5th wheel, I got to tee it up every hole there was a backlog, and hack it up on the site of the fairway as the men played.
I remember needing to go to the bathroom somewhere on the 6th fairway and running for 5 minutes back to the club house because I wasn’t allowed to pee in the woods. “Pros aren’t peeing in the woods Sam, neither should you.”
With an iron stick, and a ball the size of a plum, golf is one of the hardest sports to learn and excel at. It took me literally a year of constant play to break 100, and almost 5 years to consistently break 90. More than 20 years later, I’ve hit a plateau and can hardly ever break 80, no matter how hard I try.
Here are the similarities between golf and life that you may enjoy.
AFTER A CERTAIN POINT, THERE’S NO MORE ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
1) Practice. There’s no substitute for practice and it’s not just with one club either. You must practice all 14 clubs all the time, because all of them are needed at some stage or another. Hit a 250 yard drive, and you’re left with a 150 yard approach on a par 4 400 yard hole. If you’ve only practiced your driver and your sand wedge, you are sh*t out of luck. You likely need your 7, 8, or 9 iron to stick it tight so you can two putt it in the hole.
2) Drive for show, put for dough. Everybody loves to smack a massive drive. If you want to gain 30-50 yards on your drive, just swing harder! Actually, it’s not that simple. You need to be flexible, while having a strong core during your rotation. You must hit the sweet spot, or your ball will duck hook into the woods. If you really want that extra yardage, play on a better course in Hawaii. The balls roll long there.
3) Believe in yourself. Golf requires incredible mental fortitude. You must visualize the flight of the ball, including where you want it to land before every stroke. You must believe your line is correct for you to roll the ball a foot past the hole during your puts. Without belief, your muscles will tell, and you will fail. Every time I stand over a five foot putt, I tell myself that it’s worth the same as a 280 yard drive so not to f*ck it up!
4) Set expectations and analyze. The reason why it took me 5 years to break 90 consistently is because I didn’t set expectations and break down each hole. For any given 18 hole regulation course, you’ll get a smattering of par 4′s, three or four par 5′s, and another two or three par 3s. If you shoot par, you shoot a 70-72, which is an incredible accomplishment and unrealistic for beginners. Instead, if you break down 18 holes and expect a 5 on each, you will shoot 90. You allow yourself a double bogie on all your par 3s, and a bogey on all your par 4s. Do better than that on just one hole and you break 90!
5) Use the right equipment. I played with cavity back irons from Callaway for a decade just because they were the first type of irons I ever used. Before Callaways, I used knockoffs because that’s all I could afford. ”Big Bubba’s” if I recall correctly. I never bothered to try something new until about 5 years ago. Now I play with Mizuno MP-30 semi-blades which allow me to carve the ball for better accuracy. Just by switching to irons that suit me better, I’ve dropped about 4-5 strokes on average. Get your equipment tailored to suit your style, height, and strength. They’ll make a world of difference!
ONE DAY, MAYBE
After 12 months of laser like focus, I got my handicap down to a 10.2 from a 16.5. I bought new used equipment and played smart golf. I was regularly shooting in the mid-to- low 80s (82-85) with an occasional blowup into the high 80s and low 90s. Unfortunately, I was never able to consistently shoot 78-81, which meant that I was never going to achieve my goal of breaking a 10 handicap. I quit for two years once the 2008 crash came and just played tennis. So much cheaper and better exercise!
Earlier this year, my friend joined a golf club and started asking me to play with him. I obliged since each round took only 3.5 hours now. After shooting a 84, 87, 81, 83 and 84 from the blues, I’ve finally got my handicap to 9.9. The question now is, do I quit while I’m ahead and relish in the achievement? Or do I keep trying to get better with an absolutely high chance of getting worse? It gets logarithmically harder the better one gets where fun starts going out the window. Funny how we ask the same questions in life all the time.
Any golf fanatics out there with single-digit handicaps? If you played just once a month, do you think you’d be able to maintain a single-digit handi?
Do you agree that after a certain level, no matter how hard you try, you can no longer improve in life?