Faith. Is it the final frontier? Exploring it shows what it can do. Faith in God. Faith in human goodness. Faith in cooperation. Faith in oneself, built from faith in a God who creates masterpieces. Like my golf swing! Sometimes. When? When I let it! When I don’t feel the need to do too much. It’s like coach Mike Leach preaches in football: just do your job. You don’t need to score 14 points on any one play. Just do your job. I don’t need 300 yard drives, especially ones that end in deep grass, behind trees, on top of houses, in lakes, etc. I don’t need to do grand things at work. Just my job: cooperate, innovate, encourage and persevere. Little things, over and over again. Willingness and faith. A controlled swing. In the fairway. On the green. Near the hole. Easy tap-in. It seems like it could be easy.
Some shots go bad. Some holes even go bad, often from multiple bad shots. Lost focus? Is this lost faith? Leach also says that adversity will come. He is right. It’s not avoidance of adversity that defines us. It’s our performance in the midst of it. Like cheering on a team in the throes of difficulty. Giving our best to each shot in a wave of triple-bogeys. Birdies are out there, along with touchdowns and tackles. Winning can be born in defeat.
I saw that cold weather was expected soon. It was perhaps my last chance of the year to play what I considered to be a good round of golf.
Veteran’s Memorial Golf Course is one of my homes. The first hole is short and I started with an easy par. Nice. One down. The second hole is also short. A hooked drive under a tree, a topped punch, two fat wedges, a mediocre chip and two putts. Easy triple bogey. And the sun shone on! No trees fell and the birds continued to chirp. Try, try again. Another short par four, with a severely left-sloped fairway. Bad time for another hook. So it happened. Self-fulfilling fear? Punch near the green, chip and two putts for bogey. Then what I told myself was a really sick hole: huge trees lining the right side of the fairway, stealing the line for a power hook. Hardpan on the left leading to a wheat field, seemingly magnetized for my balls. So I drove out-of-bounds and triple-bogeyed, moving quickly to seven over par. What if I had embraced the opportunity presented by the tee shot? We’ll never know for sure. Spilt milk. I know I can play good golf. I mostly hadn’t so far that day, but I KNEW I could.
Next was a long par four, dog-legging to the right. Right-handed hookers like me prefer left-turning doglegs. But that’s the beauty of opportunity. It is where, when and how it is. On the tee I centered myself, re-gaining faith in my ability to execute a wide variety of good shots. I’ve hit them before. Calm, controlled and relaxed swings are a path to success. Hit the best shot possible. Regardless of the outcome of that shot, do your confident best on the next. And the next. And the next. This is the story of football and golf and all of life. Just hit it sweet!
So the same guy who was seven over par after four holes was still seven over after nine, after a nice two-putt birdie on number nine, set up by a conscious effort to swing easy and free on the tee. Not “hard” to hit it long; rather, easier to hit it better. So I hit it sweet and straight and onto the green. It was a good lesson for me. I need a lot of re-education.
The back nine went much like the front nine: two triple-bogeys in the first three holes, sandwiching a bogey. Seven strokes lost to par in three holes. Then another turnaround: three pars, two bogeys and another birdie, completing the back nine in eight over par.
It was a tale of extremes. Not an awesome score, but some excellent shot-making mixed into character building lessons. I’m awaiting better scores. I believe they’re coming. I will persist in doing my part to make it so. Even more importantly, I will enjoy the journey. What fun!