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All city 08 18 2016Wow!  I overcame a 6-6-6-6 start in the first round of the Walla Walla City Championship, steadying my nerves to post my best round of the year.  Eight over after four, I finished the front nine in ten over 46.  A decent comeback for a twenty handicapper.  After double-bogeying number ten, the magic began. Par saves and a birdie chip-in were mixed with long, powerful, straight drives. I left a few wedge/9-iron shots WAY short of greens, only to hit sweet recovery wedges and crucial putts on some of them.  It was so fun!  I toured the back in 39, netting 65 for the day. It put me in position to challenge in the open division (white tees), sandwiched between the championship contenders (blue tees) and the seniors (gold tees).  I am so excited for tomorrow!

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Golf is mysteriously enticing. How to stay mentally primed? Focused on positivity, visualizing sweet, pure strokes. Loving the feel of solid contact and skyrocketing shots, often nestling near the target. So sweet! I did that for much of the time tonight, and it soothed my soul. But the mystery lives on: I slipped off at times, for three holes especially, before swinging smoothly for the final two holes. Six pars, four bogeys and a double bogey. I missed two ten foot birdie putts but had good distance feel. Even some of the bogeys included beautiful shots. Practice breeds consistency. My heart knows some practice I need is in my mind. Tee it up!

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Pat & Lyn live in golf heaven!

Lyn and Pat live the good life, including amazing golf at Tonto Verde Peaks course.

Lyn and Pat live the good life, including amazing golf at Tonto Verde Peaks course.

Lyn’s net 69 mastered the inaugural Desert Classic at Tonto Verde’s Peaks course, which was lovely in almost every way. Lyn won match play over both Pat and I.

Desert golf is brothers' bonding is an amazing way!

Desert golf is brothers’ bonding in an amazing way!

The greens were slow, the translation suggested foolish greens, which looked like they’d be incredible when fast. The views were magnificent.

Who believes they can take me in a long drive contest?

Who believes they can take me in a long drive contest?

We hit some beautiful shots and occasionally found the desert. Lyn was the straightest hitter and most consistent putter (29). Pat and I matched 89’s to ramp up suspense.

Lyn is the champion...of the day!

Lyn is the champion…of the day!

In the week-long competition, Pat beat me 35-28 in head-to-head skins and I nipped him 3 days to 2 in match play. Pat made three beautiful birdies, including a hole-out from the sand that was exciting and rare for it’s range.

Desert master Pat crafts a recovery shot.

Desert master Pat crafts a recovery shot.

I hit a high, long eight iron to eight feet past and stroked it home for birdie on hole 6 (78/90).

Should I shorten my backswing?

Should I shorten my backswing?

We enjoyed this lovely slice of Rio Verde and the awe-inspiring drive, showcasing the Four Peaks and surrounding mountains. The views were magnificent, the company so loving and golf as I’ve never seen it before. Wow! I am a desert golf lover!

Bring on the long drive contest!

Bring on the long drive contest!

Lyn strokes it pure!

Lyn strokes it pure!

Pat grooves his swing.

Pat grooves his swing.

This may be the ultimate climax after amazing preludes at classy desert courses. The Peaks course at Tonto Verde will serve as the championship venue for the 2015 Erickson Desert Open. What a privilege it is to have entered! I hope next year’s field is larger. If not, c’est la vie and lucky me!

Desert target golf on small, fast and undulating greens is so appropriate after the tracks we’ve enjoyed. This links quintuple has been by far the most incredible golfing experience of my life. Let the good times roll!

WSU whips Arizona, as seen from a Las Vegas brewery...

WSU whips Arizona, as seen from a Las Vegas brewery…


Go Cougs!

Go Cougs!

Quintero Golf & Country Club is heaven on earth!

Quintero Golf & Country Club is heaven on earth!

The Legacy Golf Club in Vegas. Los Caballeros Golf Club in Wickenburg.

Pat at Los Caballeros.

Pat at Los Caballeros.

Corte Bella Golf Club in Sun City West. Quintero Golf and Country Club in Peoria.

Quintero is wild and so fun!

Quintero is wild and so fun!

Amazing golf courses, incredibly progressive in quality.

Steady and free, stroking it sweet!

Steady and free, stroking it sweet!  Los Caballeros

Awesome views, manicured greens, impeccable cart paths, generous service, splendid landscapes, exquisitely executed strokes, family friendly camaraderie, close competition and perfect weather. This is so fun!

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Today, Quintero ramped it up on perfectly smooth and dangerously fast greens, running 11+ on the Stimpmeter. The fastest and best greens of our rich lives. Pat whipped me on Quintero like he did at The Legacy. Fortunately, I nipped him at Los Caballeros and Corte Bella. Corte Bella was sweet, but Quintero upped the ante again. Can we top it?

What would you do here?

What would you do here? A punch shot under the tree at Los Caballeros.

On the front nine at Corte Bella, I crafted a 39 that easily could have been lower. It was the best golf of my 52 rounds this year. Pat scored with two birdies at Corte Bella and nearly caught me on the back nine. Then I ballooned in score at Quintero to my highest score of the year. Still, it was so fun! Pat made another birdie and won going away. I’ve missed all of my birdie putts so far this week. Can I change that? The next round could be climactic, and likely full of fun!

Has Frank been bushwhacking at Quintero? Hint? Check the pockets....

Has Frank been bushwhacking at Quintero? Hint? Check the pockets….

I believe that’s what we need, from time to time.  Or always!

I shot my best golf score of the year on Saturday, hitting ten greens and missing nine of the birdie putts, including about four from a ten to twelve foot range and a four footer. The ten footer that dropped felt sweet. I hit about five fairways, but stayed between the trees much of the time.  It was a day to savor, for reuniting with Gary, sunshine, fresh air, a nice walk, and improvement. I made another stride towards scoring like I did decades ago. I think it’s because I was simply enjoying the sheer delights of golf. I must admit that the Cougars whipping Oregon on the gridiron was delicious dessert!

Change your lens, change your life.  What a great message! I’ve used this reminder for two group talks lately, both of which seemed appreciated by the audiences.  I used it at the Portland marathon, massaging my personal worst time into a pleasurable interaction with many motivated souls.  What a wonderful chance for great fun with Annie and Remington! Our diverse adventures in Portland made the marathon a chapter, rather than a narrow focus.  It feels like evolution.

Now I get to take a southerly adventure with Pat, after another visit with Nick and Jaslyn in Pullman for some exercise, great food and hopefully more awesome Cougar football! Adventure is back in full swing in my life and in my soul. Yeah!

Lessons are interchangeable for various parts of our lives.  Let’s open our minds to applying them!

Keep your head steady.  This is so important for consistent ball striking in golf, getting along with others and positive living.

Let it go.  Everything, everyone, especially ego.  Because it opens possibilities and removes barriers.

Relax.  Our minds and muscles both work better.  We think of creative solutions and stroke beautiful shots when we release the near paralysis of tension.

Practice makes us better.  Speaking, all types of golf shots, running, writing, making music and art, etc.  Masterpieces are not a result of luck.

Moving is grooving.  Nobody enhances their life via less activity, if they have a choice.  Some overcome amazing challenges, but anyone who can move should keep it up!

Good fuel helps us think and perform better.  When we are in tune with how food and drink affects our body, we open the doors to amazing enhancements!

Living well is far from hell.  It’s cool to allow ourselves to succeed.  I hope I do it soon in golf.  Or I’ll have to practice even more!

Namaste.

It feels so good!  It makes me want to do it more, to savor the delights. Why not?

Lately I have wondered if I can learn to do it even better. Will that suggest that I’m approaching my center?

There are many aspects of a smooth stroke, so it is easy to stray from the ideal. I can feel when the stroke is not right. I don’t always know what to do about it, however. This year, I have stroked poorly much of the time. It is frustrating and bewildering. But it also gives perspective on how awesome good stroking is.

Somehow, today my stroke was on. Not on every stroke, but on many. There are many ways to fail, but the good ones were so sweet today. Rising high into the sky, tonight’s wedge shots were mostly decent to good, while some were awesome. One seemed to be the highest, longest wedge shot of my life.  I was in awe that I hit it. I watched it climb and climb, seeming to rise 20% higher than the others. As it flew a great distance, I was engrossed in curiosity about what made it so different. Could I recreate that magic swing on a more regular basis? Will I move towards better scoring? The powerful draw of the greatest game has its claws in me.  I am hooked again.

There is much to remember: loose grip/relaxed muscles, appropriate stance, pushback/takeaway with an upright swing plane, and most importantly, balance.  Follow-through towards target, steady head, controlled swing length, hip timing, etc.  It’s really fun when all I need to think is “relax.” Then let it happen. I want more days when the ball flies straight where I aim. So I’ll keep practicing, and keep the faith. The high scores I’ve posted this year are not written in stone. They fade away fast, as fast as my mind realizes that my true destiny is to stroke it well. Though the scores are not my worth, they do paint a picture of my journey. I await its maturation.

FORE!

A golf view in a football town...

A golf course view of a football town…..

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!

 

It just keeps getting better! I have another new favorite golf course. This beauty is special in many ways. It is the polar opposite of limited space, “cram it in” golf course design that degrades so many tracts. At the Raven, fun runs could be staged between greens and the following tees! Walking here would mimic a marathon. The carts are life preservers.
Native terrain was skillfully massaged to create gorgeous holes with tantalizing risk-reward options.
Putting greens are fast, smooth and sloped. They remind me of Wine Valley Golf Club, and the grass is more mature. Scenic elevated tees are abundant. Rolling fairways narrow as you approach the greens, teasing long approaches and punishing wayward shots with thick, lush rough. Largemouth bunkers guard tricky greens, helping short holes play tough. Native grass roughs encourage accuracy and penalize wildness.
I can’t imagine anyone not liking this course. The fairways are beautiful and the cart paths and bridges are extensive, protecting the quality of the grass and the enjoyment of the journey. I want to go back! Why not soon?

Nick and Zach

Nick and Zach

Life has been really good, in so many ways. Can it get any better than this?

Summer has blessed me with new experiences, which widen my smiles and broaden my perspective. I’ve delighted in new scenery on my street bicycle, feeling power grow in my legs. I promptly rebounded from a head-on collision on my mountain bicycle; thank God for pneumatic tires and pedal clips! Adjusting to the clips has involved two minor falls, but now I have a steady supply of power.

I’ve upgraded my fairway metals and a loft wedge and tried some new putters. So far this year I’ve played thirteen rounds and a couple of scrambles. Recently, that’s more than some five-year stretches! It is still frustrating, challenging, inspiring and befuddling. My first handicap in decades is 18.8, as the beautiful shots have been counterbalanced by the despicable, penalized and ridiculous. Trees, OB’s, traps, deep grass, lost balls, duck hooks and more. Golf is God’s direct line to my spirit. I think He plays too. Wine Valley Golf Course near Walla Walla made me beam like a kid on Christmas. By the seventh hole, I was delighted to realize that it felt like my favorite course ever! Treeless, rolling hills lead to smooth, fast and rolling greens. Putts roll perfectly and every shot pattern can work. Holes are well designed and maintenance is wonderful. I invite you to join me there soon! Friday’s fundraiser at Walla Walla Country Club for St. Mary Medical Center’s foundation was well-managed.  There are two ugly holes there, one with a blind approach and one with a blind tee shot. WWCC is also well cared for, but it reminds me, like so many things, that humans get smarter with time. The newer courses are often better, especially when space and site selection are not big limiters. Next weekend I’m scheduled to play Circling Raven in North Idaho (for the first time) and this fall I hope to return to Palouse Ridge in Pullman. That’s three of the best courses in the region, so I’m a very lucky guy! May the birdies be with me…..

Grand Luau at Honua'ula

Grand Luau at Honua’ula

In June Nick and Jaslyn and Annie and Zach and I all enjoyed our trip to Maui and agreed that it was a fun and memorable week, perhaps the best of our lives. For most of us it was our first trip to Hawaii. We loved the Maui Hill 3 bedroom/3 bath condo. It was the perfect way to enjoy paradise. Snorkeling with sea turtles was amazing. Boogie boarding each day on increasingly larger waves was so fun! Every morning I took coffee on the deck and savored the blessings of utopia. Our Luau was fun and entertaining, and Lahaina and Kihei offered interesting shopping. We also had fun in the pool and hot tub. We all hope to go back as soon as possible. The wood carvings of sea turtles and tikis remind us of our adventure!

Maui snorkeling

Maui snorkeling

At Rainbow Beach in July we were scorched by the weather. On Sunday morning, Annie and I turned our first paddle of the year into an epic experience. I thought it’d be a short outing and absent-mindedly forgot sunscreen, food, money and backup beverages. We remembered to bring some water and adventurous spirits. It was very fun, so we had paddled several miles, through the channel and well around the other lake before we decided to paddle the entire perimeter of both lakes. Like a marathon, the course seemed to get longer and longer! New bays appeared, each one bigger than we remembered. They are effortless in a power boat. On a paddle board, not so much.  Stroke or sit dead in the water. Luckily, I’ve done a lot strength training on my shoulders this year. With little recent paddle training, the standing became tiring to our feet, however, so we eventually alternated between standing, kneeling and sitting. As the temperatures rose, we had to jump into the water or douse ourselves more often. We were hot, tired and thirsty. Hey, we’ve been here before. We can do this! This is like a marathon! After completing the south lake and passing back through the channel, we faced a tough challenge. Our energy was spent and it was a lot longer path to complete circumnavigating, as compared to straight-lining to drinks, food and shade. Could we make it? Should we try? Are we in late-race delirium? In the end, we couldn’t envision doing it again later in the week. It needed to be done. Let’s do it! Ironically, as we neared completion of a large bay and turned back towards our cabin, the wind came up. In our face! I flashed back to marathon training runs. It was four letter word time! Somehow, we made it, over 4.5 hours after starting out. Spent, thirsty, hungry, sun-burned, hot and victorious. That was one tasty Coke Zero! A dip in the lake, some food and a long spell of shade: how sweet it is! The ensuing days brought water-skiing, which was as thrilling as ever and delightful huckleberry treats. Seeing loved ones in a vacation setting is sweet deja vu. It’s especially rewarding to see the good choices and growth in people’s lives.

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

Annie paddling North Twin Lake at sunset

I’m sitting in Nick and Jaslyn’s living room now as they slumber, along with Annie. I’m stoked that I got over eight hours of sleep and a bit curious how much they will get. We all lifted hard at the WSU Recreation Center yesterday evening, focusing on our chests and triceps. They are quite inspirational, and I needed it! Today we’re doing back and shoulders. Tomorrow? The world! Or try to intimidate Pat with some big drives. Maybe even in the fairway? Nick turned me on to inspirational videos and I’m stoked to better my core muscles, which will open more doors and make things easier and more fun. Fun! Yes! Bring on the fun!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Mom and Dad at Twin Lakes, their favored vacation retreat. My role models!

Yours may be in June. Or not. I’m having one today. It may be the perfect day for it. To be clear, today is not as much about my privilege of being father to my children. I get those special days throughout each year, blessed with adventures, discovery and laughter with Nicholas and Annie. Today I’m thinking of my Dad, James Gilbert Erickson, the patriarch of this diverse clan I call family.

So it’s golf and gardening for me today. Pinochle too, if I can find it. NBA basketball would be right. I’ll dine on fresh asparagus and salmon later. My goal is to be a living version of my Dad! Well, if only I could have kept it in the fairways…..

Life deals hard knocks at times. Today’s round of golf played out like a microcosm of my life. I made three triple bogeys on the front nine. How? Value golfing! Why take only one chip on a hole when you can have more? Why play on the short grass, with clear paths to the greens, when you can easily find more challenge? Those trees were planted for a reason! Isn’t a circuitous life more enriching than a simple, straight line to success? Well, I’ve only had one path. The winding road has been fun! And hard. And depressing. And saddening. But enough of the tough. Today’s stark reality is that the triple bogeys are the good times. They are, after all, simply golf. Typically no blood or death. Besides, a tough time in life is still life. LIFE! The greatest gift of all? So I may have grown a bit today. After I’d chopped it around the first nine in 54 strokes, my newfound golfing friend remarked that he had more fun playing with me today than any of his other golf outings. I felt honored. Perhaps it was because I remained courteous, friendly and hopefully funny, despite the tally building on my scorecard. My highest score in over forty years was one of my most pleasurable days of the year. I was playing a game I love in perfect weather. I am a lucky man.

I parred our tenth hole, nailed a birdie putt after a sweet approach on the eleventh, and parred the twelfth. I was one under par for three holes on the second nine, after averaging double bogeys on the first nine (with no hole better than bogey). I was scoring as good on the back as I was badly on the front. The birdie was especially fun, but how I handle life’s situations is more important than what they are. I shot a pleasant 54 on the front and a grateful 40 on the back. So am I a hacker or a pretty good golfer? Attitudinally, I’m getting there. We’ll see what happens with the scores. Maybe there’ll be more birdies. Like the hawk that tried to scare us away from its nest today. That’s a double birdie day!

Golf is no four letter word. It’s often called “Arghhhhhhhhh!” Or “dammmmnnnnnn!” Or other unpleasantries. Except when you hit one just right. Then it’s “ahhhhhhhhh.” Maybe “yessssssssss!” I’ll be back soon. That just feels too good. I want more. Like a sweet romance, it tantalizes, lures and hooks us. It will never be mastered, but I think I’ll try. As the sun smiles on my skin and the breeze cools my brow, I visualize a towering shot, rising high in the sky, threatening the target. Mastery of a moment, if only a single shot, suggests mind-pleasing possibilities. I’m the man. I can do this. I can excel at mankind’s most challenging game. If I find the sweet spot in my spirit, I’m opened to finding the sweet spot on the club head. One opens the door to the other, analogous to so much of life. So swing away. You’ll see just where you are. The truth is delightful. It points to exactly what to do next. We simply need to open the eyes of our minds. Namaste.

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Sometimes I fly like an eagle!

Bicycling is cool cross-training. I can pedal hard for a couple of hours without feeling sore or overly tired. It’s fun, scenic, invigorating and healthy. What a win!

Weight-lifting leaves me sore, most often. It suggests a hint of masochism, mixed with egotism. Sometimes it feels great, sometimes it’s really hard. It always keeps me more fit, more youthful and better prepared.

Standup paddle boarding is a new addition to my life. It fits in beautifully with a self-propelled lifestyle, delivering great abdominal, back, arm and leg endurance training. It always feels adventurous to me.  Yay!

Nordic skiing has a very special place in my heart. I’ve skied into heaven on earth. The risk of cold, remote places is enhanced by beauty, adventure, invigoration, inspiration and wonderful endurance training. I love it!

Running is in my spirit, woven into my soul. It offers endurance or speed. Self-propulsion feeds self-confidence and a willingness to tackle new pursuits. Running opens doors to greater adventures, like awe-inspiring backcountry hikes!

Hiking with a heavy backpack, for many hours, feels like a marathon to me. I like that it makes me stronger. The process gets really tough. I learn mental discipline. I learn that “can do” trumps “can’t do” almost every time I really want it to.  The views are painted on the front page of the newspaper of my soul. Treasures!

Golf is the best game I’ve ever found. It challenges my mind in every way imaginable. It offers physical challenges in beautiful locations. It can not be mastered. I’m lured by the feeling of balls struck well. It’s been a busy couple of decades, but golf teases my spirit with a sense of impending reunion.

Volleyball is one of my favorite team games. It tests quickness, creativity, coordination and spirit. It’s fun to learn teamwork. Basketball and football are other favored team sports. The excitement makes these almost as much fun to watch as to play.

When I was a kid, riding my motorcycle was part of my daily routine. My bike gave me freedom and wild adventures. It got me high! I’m sticking with non-motorized bikes now, because I want to extend life if I can. But I still love to get high.

One way is water-skiing. Cold water slaps my face and everywhere else. Bam! The boat jerks hard, testing strength, balance and mental toughness. I rise above the fish and skim across the water, as free, wild and crazy as a teenager. Yeah! Hit it!

It’s been a great weekend!  I took Friday off to start early, joining my brothers Pat and Jim for some very challenging golfing tests.  The Palouse Ridge golf club offers panoramic views, sloping fairways and smooth, fast and hard greens.  There is absolutely no boredom here.  Extreme side-hill lies, British style bunkers, tall native grasses and well designed holes offer challenge, opportunity and danger.  My best advice is to bring extra balls, especially the ones you can hit with a club!

After golf, Annie treated us to oven fresh bread, roasted vegetables with feta and parmesan, red pepper vinaigrette chicken, cheesy cauliflower quinoa and chocolate pumpkin bars.  It was all so good!  ( :

On Saturday we enjoyed good sleep, burgers and sausages at Jim’s fifth wheel party and awesome sunshine in the student section of Martin Stadium.  We had an impressive view of the stadium expansion and saw some good plays by the Cougars.  Not enough to win the game though, as they fell to Colorado, 35-34.  As usual, Mike Leach’s post-game interview was entertaining and enlightening.  He’s changing a culture; I believe he’ll get it done.

After a short rest and re-fueling, Annie and I visited the Rec center to exercise.  We started with 25 minutes of fast paced lunges and weights and then moved to ellipticals, rowing machines and 12 percent incline treadmills, for 40 more minutes of cardiovascular training.  It felt so good!  We then had wonderful leftovers and chocolate applesauce oatmeal muffins, fresh from the oven.  Yay!

Tomorrow we hope to hike up Moscow Mountain.  What lucky people we are!  I hope we smuggle some muffins along!!!

Our golf scramble team was stacked!  We had five good players, so we made birdies on the first five holes.  Then one par, followed by two more birdies.  Seven under par through eight holes.  Milton-Freewater’s golf course is very easy, but this was a fun opportunity to marvel at success.  I didn’t swing great yesterday, but it was a lot of fun anyway.  Ironically, when I hit a nice approach to within fifteen feet of a pin, one teammate hit a slightly better shot.  Perhaps I needed some more humbling!  Maybe our team did too.  On the last hole, a par three, we hacked it badly, taking three strokes to get on the green.  This finishing bogey was our reminder of the waves of life.  We really never know what’s coming next!

Fore!  Watch out duffers, here I come!  Today is the annual golf scramble associated with my employer.  I helped run it for years, and later played on the winning team for two years in a row.  The ego-feeding parts of those stories were the clutch putts I hit in the tie-breaking “putt-offs” to win the title for my teams.  If you’ve golfed, you know that the game is effective at keeping big egos in check! 

I had dreams of magnificent shots last night, including a hole-in-one.  So far, I’ve yet to stroke a real-life hole-in-one, though I almost flew one into the hole in my youth.  I’ve had a few aces at virtual golf.  Back to real life:  I haven’t even seen someone else ace a hole, other than on television.  I’m excited that my doctor gave me the go-ahead to play,  just two days ago.  I didn’t sign up with a team, thinking I had to rest my elbow and finger.  Rumor has it that there is a team I can slip in with.  Is this a chance to build new friendships?  What can I learn from my new teammates?  What can I share with them?  Will I play within myself, fostering a consistent and controlled swing, with good tempo?  Will I find an effective level of muscle relaxation, focus, clarity and touch?  Will I be less attached to outcomes, to let it all happen as it might?  Will I help my ball on its journey to its home, the hole?  If I do the things to play well, will it “rub off” on my teammates?  I can’t wait to find out!

If the title of this post had you thinking about things other than golf, try calling 1-888-GET-HELP.  ( :

Mountain biking with Annie was so fun yesterday!  She loves my new bike as much as I do.  She rode it over single track trails and raced down a gravel road, beaming awesome smiles!  Those smiles were early Father’s Day gifts!  So was watching the kids interact at Zach’s birthday party.  They have learned much about life and they have good hearts!  ( :

Friday night I broke my personal record for longest telephone call.  How exciting to find someone with that much to talk about!  It reminds me how my Dad always thought telephones were for getting your business done and getting off in a couple of minutes.  We shared a “party” line with the neighbors, so if they were on the phone, you could hear them talking, and had to wait.  Speaking of sharing, we had to come to agreement on what to watch on our nineteen inch black and white television, or do something else.  Were many of the things we did instead better for us?  None of them involved computers or cell phones or even health clubs.  How things have changed!

My father passed away over two years ago, yet he remains one of the most influential people in my life.  He is a good man; I feel his spirit is alive and I picture him watching over me, helping guide me.  He is imperfect, yet grounded in the important things in life, like integrity, family, honesty, work ethic, being true to yourself and helping others.  He lived his convictions, knowing that actions are more important than idle words.  He came to love golf and blessed me with opportunity to play.  I have never found another game that is anywhere close to golf in simulating life on a personal level.  Other games teach us much about teamwork and cooperation.  Golf gets to the core of our character, testing confidence, faith, perspective, adaptability, creativity, patience, focus and ability to recover from adversity.  It also requires relaxation, coordination, balance and agility.  The psychological aspects alone make it a great growth opportunity.  Dad and I enjoyed many rounds of well matched competition.  Sometimes I felt like the hare to his tortoise, powering drives well past his, yet admitting to a higher number by the end of play.  What treasured lessons!  Thank you Dad!  ( :

Dad used to shake us awake at 5 AM so we could head to the “back of the farm” to move sprinklers.  Groggily complying, I wished I didn’t have to go, because I wanted more sleep.  Then the beauty of the morning smiled upon us!  Sunshine, songbirds, fresh air and plants growing everywhere filled our souls.  Thank you Dad!

Dad didn’t really respond when I tried to talk to him about spiritual matters.  Yet he was the guy who was always helping stranded motorists who ran out of gas or had their rig break down along the highway.  Always ready to help people in need, whether they were kids, friends, neighbors or strangers.  Thanks Dad!

Since I’m a father too, I’m blogging with coffee and a recording of yesterday’s third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament playing.  Maybe I’ll take a run today, hopefully play some hackysack and watch more golf.  Maybe the cleaning will mostly wait.  Happy Father’s day to us all!  ( :

RAZR X Black Irons

These clubs are amazing!  I hit the seven iron way higher than I am used to, as well as farther.  Never mind that the distance gain is because of  Callaway lowering the loft by one degree.  Let’s just say I’m hitting it higher and farther!  Yay!  I tried Ping and the other major brands, but these clubs just felt better and performed better.  Perhaps they got more of my better swings, but I think they’re going to be fun!  I purchased a set of 5-iron through utility wedge so far, plus a 4 hybrid.  I hear the Cleveland loft wedges are amazing, so I’m considering adding a couple of those, plus a fairway “wood” made of metal, or two.  Maybe even a new driver and putter and bag.  I also got the first golf shoes I’ve had in over three decades:  Nike widened their toe box, so they fit nicely.  Now I’ve removed more of my excuses.  It’s time to play!  ( :

PS – If I could find a vehicle that excited me as much as these golf clubs and the Kona Hei Hei 29 Deluxe bicycle, I’d buy it!

Golf courses

Golf courses (Photo credit: eutrophication&hypoxia)

I went out to practice some golf shots today, for the first time in nearly seven months.  The weather was perfect: seventy degrees, lovely sunshine and gentle breezes.  Putting practice reminded me of a life lesson:  don’t think too much about the stroke.  Instead, concentrate on getting the ball rolling well on a line of your choice.  Then maybe, just maybe, it will drop into the hole!  After some success with this concept, I was about to graduate to the driving range, when I heard an old friend calling my name.  Since he was preparing to play a round, I cast aside my fear of embarrassment and joined him.  I struggled on some holes and excelled on others.  How did they differ?  Well, since golf is as complicated of a game as I’ve ever met, I hesitate to oversimplify cause and effect.  But there are truths to be shared!  When preparing for a shot, I must visualize a good shot, seeing it in my mind, while relaxing my muscles and controlling the length of my backswing, effectively playing within myself.  When I did this today, I stroked a 230 yard fairway wood to within two feet of the cup, allowing myself a simple tap in for birdie.  On the very next hole, I had missed the green by about twenty yards and faced an uphill/sidehill pitch to the pin.  I had a rough idea where to hit my next shot to get my ball close, but I chose to walk up the hill to get a better feel for the lay of the land.  I remembered that I needed to relax, visualize the perfect shot, trust my swing and do my best.  The ball flew perfectly, skipped a bit and rolled right into the hole!  I had two birdies in a row after suffering through double and quadruple bogeys earlier in the round.  Perhaps life, like golf, is about visualizing the best path, having faith that proper actions will be effective, executing as well as we can and enjoying the results, whatever they may be.  Setbacks need not be reason for dismay or pessimism.  They can rouse our willingness to believe in the possible, spur our ability to visualize awesomeness and open the door to achieving previously unimagined successes.  If I believe something is not possible, then it surely is not.  If I believe in possibilities, amazing things can happen!  ( :

Whacking little balls with long sticks into tiny, faraway holes is not the easiest thing to do.  Apparently we enjoy challenge!  The lure runs even deeper: fresh air, majestic settings, timeless perspective.  What great opportunities to face our egos!  Humility may grow as double bogeys awaken us.   Wanting something too badly can make it unattainable (thanks to Deepak Chopra’s book entitled “Golf for Enlightenment”).  Staying within my natural gifts, by controlling the pace and length of my swing, has led to the purest stroking and best scores of my life.  Overswinging, a direct product of ego, has delivered horrendous results.  These can shatter confidence, divert focus and destroy succeeding shots.  It’s a vicious circle of decay!  It’s a commentary on life!  Stroke well!  ( :

frankoshanko

I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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