I recently played my first competitive round of golf in over 13 years as I competed for a spot in the 104th Oregon Amateur. It was a beautiful day with great weather and a course in nearly perfect condition. The two guys in my group were friendly and very accomplished players, and we enjoyed chatting as we walked down the fairways on each hole.
However, competitive golf is anything but a casual stroll around 18 holes. It is nerve-racking.
I entered the tournament to get back into the game and see how my nerves would hold up, to see if I was ready to hit tough shots under pressure, and to see if my game had any glaring weaknesses I needed to improve.
Unfortunately, I did not play well enough to earn a spot into the field for the tournament, missing the cut by 2 shots, but I did learn a lot about myself and my game. Golf has a funny way of sticking a mirror in your face and showing you who you really are, despite what you think about yourself.
I learned that I’m a little uncomfortable under pressure. Golf is all about comfort, and the more times you put yourself in pressure situations, the more you get used to the pressure and eventually begin to enjoy it. In order for me to reach my goals, I’m going to need to put myself in that situation more often.
I learned that I have grown up a little bit. Throughout the day, whether I hit a good shot or a bad one, I was able to maintain the same even-keel attitude and not let the results affect me emotionally, which is something I struggled with in college. Being able to do this is a huge victory in the game of golf, and in life. Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way, and sometimes they do. But no bounce should ever determine your attitude, and I did not allow any bad breaks to negatively affect my attitude.
I learned that teamwork, even in an individual game like golf, is important and effective. My caddy, Reid, was a great help, not only in carrying my bag and cleaning my clubs, but also by encouraging me and helping me figure out yardages, pick clubs and read putts. He made the day a lot of fun, and I was really glad to have him on the bag.
I learned that I am good enough to compete with the best players in Oregon. For most of the day, I was inside the cut line. I putted beautifully all day and played some great shots. And I realized that unless I believe in myself and my abilities, I will never play to my fullest potential. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about my abilities. They don’t have to hit the shots. I do.
Most importantly, I learned that life goes on, and the outcomes we experience don’t define who we are. Rather, they tell a story of where we’ve been and where we’re going, and I can’t wait to play in another tournament.