Monday, October 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Sand Shots

"If you want it you got
You just got to believe.
Believe in yourself,
-Lenny Kravitz

At the time of this writing, one of the biggest hurricanes in recent history is crashing down on our fair city.  So since I've got a little time to kill and I clearly won't be playing any golf any time soon, I thought this week's post would delve a little further into the last round I played.

More specifically, I will tell the story of two sand shots with two radically different outcomes.

The first one occurred on the very first hole.  As you may recall, I was in a bit of a rush on the first hole and ended up having to play very quickly.  (If you don't recall, then just read the last post.  Dude, it'll take 3 minutes.)  Despite the circumstances (or maybe due to them), I ended up hitting a pretty good tee shot.  However, my second shot went into the sand.

I don't know if it was the adrenaline or the crystal meth, but I walked up to that sand shot and told myself, "You know how to do this.  Just do it."  And with very little thought I stepped up and hit an excellent shot.  And boy did that feel good.  (The sand shot not the crystal meth.)

Unfortunately, this state of euphoria didn't carry over to the next opportunity.

It was at the Par 4 6th hole.  A short little hole with a small pond in front of the tee box.  I hit an okay tee shot.  Still in play with a good chance to reach the green in two shots.  My second shot however, was beautifully chunked off to the right and into the bunker.  Pure, high-grade, unadulterated shit shot.

But for some reason, I didn't approach this upcoming sand shot with the same elan and joie de vivre as I had on the previous shot.  On this particular shot, I was consumed with doubt.  Sure, I tried to tell myself the same thing that I did on the first hole, but for some reason I wasn't listening to myself.  And let's face it, nothing good happens when you ignore the voices in your head.

As a result, I was unable to get out of the sand on my third shot (Bummer).  On my fourth shot, I was able to get out of the sand but landed in the rough next to the green (Double Bummer).  For my fifth shot, I chose to skull the ball and send it rolling about 30 feet past the hole for a very long putt.  All for a grand total of 7 on the hole.

And if you read my last entry,  (You haven't?  Dude, seriously?! C'mon!) you'd know that I was oh so very close to breaking the coveted plateau of 95 and possibly even 90.  So that poor sand shot really didn't help matters much.

And that whole mess could have been avoided if I simply chose to believe the lie.  That beautiful, beautiful lie that said that I knew what I was doing.  That beautiful lie that said that I was actually good at this.  That beautiful lie that said that I was going to execute successfully.

Sometimes the lie you tell yourself might actually be the truth.  In fact, I think the bullshit that we tell ourselves most of the time are the real lies.

Yeah.  Deal with THAT.


I was just kidding.  I haven't smoked crystal meth in years.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hardcore Masochism

"I will never be satisfied
I will never be satisfied
I will never be satisfied
Until it ends in tears."
-Living Colour (The band not the TV show)

If you had told me 5 minutes before my last round of golf that I would shoot a 96, I would have been happy.  If you had told me that I would shoot 5 pars and 6 bogeys, I would have been thrilled.  So why, after shooting a round of 96 (one of my best rounds in months) do I still feel so miserable?  Well, quite frankly, I'm an asshole.

But also because, deep in my heart, I know I could have done better.

Allow me to paint you a picture:  It was a beautiful autumn day in the Bronx.  Early in the morning with very few people.  Calm and serene.  A perfect day for golf.  I pay my greens fee and casually make my way to the first tee.  I hadn't played in a while so I really wanted to take the time to loosen up before going out.  But then the starter says to me, "You're a single?  Hurry up and play in front of these guys because they're a group of 11."

Um, ok.  So much for loosening up.

Then as I'm rushing to get myself together so that I could take my first swing, another single walks up and is forced to join me under the same high stress scenario.  Now, maybe these circumstances actually helped me because I ended up hitting a pretty great first tee shot.  However, my second shot was not so good and I ended up in the sand trap.

Here's something you should know about me: I fucking hate sand traps.  Hate.  Hate.  Hate.  Hate.  Hate.  And yet, here's the thing: I hit a great shot out of the sand trap.  This boded well for the day.  It boded well indeed.

I proceeded to play some of the best golf I had played in months.  I was hitting great tee shots, great chip shots, and even catching a couple of lucky bounces here and there.  Oh my friends, it was a glorious day.  It wasn't perfect.  I definitely made mistakes.  But none of them were disasterous and some of them were actually good mistakes.  You know, the kind where after you see the result you say, "Oh yeah.  That's exactly what I meant to do."

That is, until I got to the 15th hole.  That fucking 15th hole.  (Clearly it was the hole's fault and not mine.)

I hit a poor tee shot which trickled in to the fairway.  Bad shot: yes.  Disaster: no.  I can only describe my second shot as this: It was as if the Hindenburg had crashed into the Titanic and then they both ran into a bus full of puppies.  This is not hyperbole.  It was that bad.  All of the good things that I had done up until that point were wiped out in one inglorious stroke.  One of the worst mistakes to make at one of the worst times to make it.

And to make matters worse, I made matters worse.  After I hit that bad shot out of bounds (followed by a monumental freak out), I continued to tell myself that I shouldn't let that one mistake ruin my entire day.  That I shouldn't let that one mistake compound into more mistakes.  That I should calm down, reset myself and move past it.

Unfortunately, I just wanted to be an angry, petulant child rather than the mature, level-headed golfer than you've all come to know and love.

I proceeded to nearly hit my penalty shot out of bounds.  (Which made me furious-er.)  Then, in my fury, I furiously miss-hit my now 5th shot, and left it short of the green by about 2 yards.  Then, in my even greater fury, I proceeded to furiously skull the short chip shot and send the ball flying about 35 feet past the hole.  And in a final burst of epic furious-ity, I three-putted the hole for a grand total of...wait for it...9 (Or a bogey 5 for those of you playing at home.)

Now, I've always had the goal and the expectation of breaking 100 (even though that rarely happens), but until the 15th hole I actually had a legitimate shot at breaking 90!  90 I say!

And now for the lesson.  After having a little time to digest everything that happened, I realize that I didn't miss my chance to reach my goal because of that one mistake.  I missed it because of how I responded to that one mistake.  I forgot the first rule of golf club: You do not talk about golf club.  Wait, I'm sorry, I'm mixing up my metaphors.  The point is, mistakes are going to happen and we can choose to dwell on them or we can choose to let go.  I chose the former and it didn't help much.

Although, in my defense, I usually make my disasterous mistakes much earlier in the round so that I have the entire day to recover from them emotionally.