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Regressing, Frustration

We went back to Nashville this weekend and I got a chance to play a good bit of golf. I started out right where I would hope to be-a 48 on the front nine of a golf course that is much tougher than the course I’ve been playing. The next day, my father-in-law and I played 2 balls for every shot, keeping the better shot. I played to a 41 that day, which was actually a little bit of a disappointment given the double bogey I had in the middle of the round. That’s nit-picky, I know, but I wanted to be bogey or better for the full round. We talked about it after wards and my father-in-law told me that he didn’t’ know what I was looking for-it was a 6 stroke improvement. My answer to him was that I was just looking for consistency in my swing. I’ll hit a perfect drive and follow it up by swinging over the ball and hitting it 25 yards. That’s part of why I’ve been enjoying golf. It’s a constant fight for me to slow myself down and concentrate on the process rather than the results. If I’m thinking about trying to make par, my swing isn’t going to be where it needs to be. If I spend every shot thinking about the shot, the score will come. It’s a great mental exercise.

Had I known what the next two days were to bring, I wouldn’t have whined a bit about that 41. I shot a 51 the next day, but it was entirely my own fault. Starting on about the fourth hole, I had a complete mental breakdown. I wasn’t slowing down my approach at all, just getting up there and ripping at the ball, making bad shot after bad shot. My father-in-law just played along with me, silently. He knew that I was furious with myself and melting down and that there wasn’t much he could say to get me back on track. I finally acknowledged to him my mental breakdown and the knowledge that, had I just calmed down and loosened up I probably would have been in the 47-48 range on that round. I cost myself a good 5 strokes just playing like a lunatic. (It’s possible I might have tossed a club here or there, or perhaps I slammed the club down a little. I was ticked off.) The worst part of all was that at some point during this round, I felt a little tightness in my right side, stretching from my chest all the way around to my spine. I ignored it and pressed on and didn’t think much about it until the net day.

We showed up the next day and my complete meltdown continued. I wasn’t losing it mentally this time, it was more that my swing disintegrated into a completely unusable mash-up of over swinging, lifting my head, swaying in my stance, moving my feet. Everything that could go wrong was and I ended up shooting a 57. I was frustrated, yes, but not completely locking myself up mentally like the day before. The “little tightness” that I felt the day before was now a full on muscle pull in my right side and like a fool I tried to play through it. I really should have quit at about the third hole, but I played all nine thinking that the heat of the day would help me loosen up a bit. It didn’t work out that way.

I’m now taking a week off from swinging a club to let this thing in my side settle down. I’m going to start stretching myself out a lot more in hopes of avoiding a recurrence of the same injury, but I’m also trying to look at what made me melt down so much mentally. I’m just not sure that I ever really recovered from the mental collapse on the third day to play well again. How do I gird myself against a recurrence of that particular malady? I think I just was in a bad mood that day and that I need to lighten up a bit about this whole golf thing. I’m not on a schedule to get better, I just need to keep playing and improving. There are going to be days when I just plain don’t have it and I have to accept that and see what I can do to make it through those days without making myself miserable. If I can do something silly like try playing the rest of the round with nothing but a five iron and a putter maybe I can have some fun with it and actually improve my five iron play and overall shot-making ability by learning to hit the same club in different ways.

Golf is a good game for me as a naturally impatient and excitable person. If I can force myself to calm down and play well, I hope that it can help me in other areas of life, like, oh, you know, dealing with a two year old.

Comments

Comment from Rob
Time August 18, 2010 at 7:09 am

I’ve got to tell you, I just don’t understand the appeal of golf. I get that it’s a primarily mental activity and if there’s anything appealing about it at all to me it’s that, but just about everyone I know who plays it lets a bad game ruin their whole day/weekend. To me, that’s another real mental activity: leaving a bad game on the course. I think you’re on the right track, though, if you’re saying you think you need to loosen up about it all. I think that’s correct.

Also, hope your pulled muscle is improving. That’s something that’d frustrate me to no end.

Comment from Barbara
Time August 21, 2010 at 10:06 am

This helped me to understand the appeal of golf. Being very bad at it, I really didn’t get it. I’m glad you are playing.

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