Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Just Good Enough" - By Sean Hotchkiss

(Photo borrowed from the Associated Press)

"I don't play as much as I'd like to. I haven't played as much as I'd like to since I was 13 years old and played 36 a day, trying like heck to break 80 on my home course, the Woodlands Club in Falmouth, Maine. One summer morning I shot a 1-under 35, playing the back nine first. I went stiff as a two-by-four on the front. A 45 led to a broken 3-iron, tossed in the lake. 
I never took too many lessons growing up. I hated getting worse before you got better. Couldn't handle it. If I was Tiger, I wouldn't have re-tooled my swing in 1998. I wouldn't have won 4 consecutive majors. The problem is, I like knowing I am capable of hitting a good shot at any time. I am and always have been a feel player. Hell, I'm a feel person. I've never responded well to technical teachers and technical terms. I suck at math...And science. My path through golf was carved playing, enjoying...not at the range beating balls. The secret is in the dirt, they say. Not for me. 
I've seen many players turn into range zombies. Ranger Ricks. They never finished a round. "I'm going to the range to work on something." I took money from those kids. Beat them in tournaments. I rarely won the tournaments, but I usually competed. My game was just good enough to keep playing and hoping some day everything would fall into place - that perfect round. I was king of 4th place. I assumed too much and worked too little. I excelled at match-play where you could make snowmen and still win. I'd be hot and cold for 6 hole stretches, inconsistently consistent. 
In Hilton Head at the International Junior Golf Academy, I shot 100 my first day there. Everyone thought I was a 30 handicapper and a chop. Two weeks later I beat everyone in the Academy and finished 2nd in a local tournament. I told myself this was my year. I'd shoot under par in practice and 80's in the tournaments. Tournament golf is not a feel game. Tournament golf is a precision game on several levels - mental, physical and spiritual. Guys who avoid instruction rarely win tournaments. But I was just good enough. Just good enough to toss a 72 in there when all hope seemed lost. I was back. I was going to win. I shot 90. 
Fear. That's what kept me away from lessons. Fear is not in the best golfers vocabulary. Golf is a game of evolution, constant patience, a ping-pong match of frustration, optimism, outright anguish. I experienced all those emotions with my ever-ready game, my ever-ready take it back inside, drop it in, slightly over the top swing. I hit it straight. Most of the time. I was just good enough. If I didn't play every day I suffered. I sucked in college. Sucked doesn't cover it. I'm a feel player. I'm a feel person. I feel like I'll never change. The kids who practiced caught up. They made changes, got comfortable, caught up. They passed me. I played and I played and I had fun and I hated it. 
I played last weekend. First round of the year. I made 12 pars in a row to start. What followed wasn't worthy of the scorecard it was written on. But I started so well...I was just good enough. I am just good enough to keep going. To have hope. To wonder. I'll never be a champion. But I'll never be last. I am just good enough and I am happy...maybe..."


Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like my game, I am holding on for my first hole in one. After that its all down hill...

Delano said...

Was that a tribute to Cyndi Lauper or your golf game??? Either way, I really enjoyed it...well done.