On the Course

My twin sister is a darned good golfer, and she’s been doing it for about 20 years longer than me.  I’d put my money on one of her drives compared to most of the guys I golf with any day of the week.  As for me, I tried golf a few times while in my twenties and, well, I hated it and I’m quite sure I looked as silly as I felt. Fast forward, if I could find a way to play every day, it’s likely I would.

When I met Karl, he wasn’t a golfer either.  While he did have far more experience than me, it wasn’t something he did very often, but I found out early that his mom did, and she was better than average as I understand it.  When Karl first took me to his parent’s property up in Northern Michigan, the first thing you’d seen pulling up the drive was their little 5-hole golf course.  After having a go at it there, one of the next trips up to see them, we played a round of golf on a municipal course, and I was hooked.  By this time, my mother-in-law was nearing 80, and she was still hitting the balls straight down the middle of the fairway.  She said, “It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be straight.” Heard!

Over the next few years, we hacked our way around several courses, most of which were far too difficult for our skill level, which was rudimentary at best.  The more we played, the more it became clear that if we wanted to play with less humiliation and more purpose, it was time to learn what the heck we were doing. It was time for us to enlist in golf boot camp.  Karl found a company called Golf Made Simple.  They have relationships with courses all over the map, and we found one nestled in the mountains near Lake Tahoe.  Settled in our cabin room and bright and early the morning after arriving, we’d start the day with six hours of golf drills and instruction.  Was I scared that I developed hand blisters on my first morning?  You bet I was and at the same time, it was almost like the fog lifting.  I really started to get it and the ball began to lift off the ground in the direction I intended.  At the end of each day, as a reward for our hard work, our “Coach for Life,” who happened to be an ex-marine, stood on the back of our golf cart and rode with us for nine-holes to tell us what we were doing wrong (or right.) I won’t lie, “Jeff” was a bit intimidating, but I really liked him, especially because he didn’t lose it on me when I stood weeping in the bunker after almost an hour of trying to carry the ball out of the pit of granulated hell.

Silly as it may seem to those who aren’t fond of or too familiar with the sport, golf has given me a great deal of new perspective in life and leadership.  As with anything worth doing, you don’t go in pretending you have all, let alone any of the answers.  Golf is a lesson in patience, etiquette, and integrity.  I think it’s also an excellent source for boosting self-confidence while teaching lessons about failure and humility, and, math!

I have been incredibly fortunate to play golf with Karl for the past seven or eight years at some of the most breathtaking golf courses in Illinois, California, South Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina.  There are so many places we want to play in the States and abroad, but until we can figure out a way to retire and golf, and afford to do so, we’re pleased to rise early on Saturday (and Sunday’s too) and be freelance golfers when we can be.