I stood on the 18th tee not aware of my score - it is recorded automatically through Arccos. I knew I was playing well (to my standards) but it didn’t feel lights out. There were some mishits, but they were saved. Some short putts that were missed. I didn’t even card a single birdie - which I have done in the past multiple time and still card in the high 80's, low 90's
I put a drive about 245 into the fairway - I am not a long hitter. I had 135 left to the front of the green, pin set 10 paces on. I stood over my bag and without thinking or making judgments, I let myself pull my 8i. On the range my 8 is my 150 club - but I took the ego out of the situation and trusted my feeling. I put a smooth swing on it and the ball just cleared the sand trap guarding the right of the green - pin high, 10 yards to the right of my target.
So, when stepped up the 18th green at Architects to take my 35ft birdie putt, I was surprised to see that I had shot a 75 through 17 holes and that if I carded a par here, I’d break 80 and my lowest round ever. I immediately got nervous and though there was no one to care about my score and no crowds watching me, I felt this perceived pressure mounting. Something I had avoided for 17 holes. I let my thoughts get the best of me and I left myself with a nerve-wracking 5ft left. I became acutely aware of my tense upper body so I took a deep breath and allowed my shoulders to relax. “This truly doesn’t matter one way or the other”, I told myself. I stepped up the ball after getting my read and I imagined the feeling of picking the ball out of the cup and took my shot. It landed true and I finished the hole with a par. 79.
While I celebrate that accomplishment, I know that some days will be better or worse than others and that I should not feel defeated if the next time I go out I shoot an 89. Expectation is the enemy of enjoyment.
Up until that round I hadn’t played 18 in 3 or 4 weeks. I had been to the range a bunch because I am one of those nuts that loves to practice. But practice has been different lately. Instead of trying to “perfect” a certain swing, or come more from the inside, or hitting the ball first, I am working to practice what I preach - learning how to feel and getting my mind in the right space to play. I am learning to trust that my body can make the swing that it needs to make to get the ball where it needs to be.
I was going out with little expectation on myself. The only thing I told myself as I played was trust your “learning self” and accept the uncertainty - because uncertainty is part of the fun. If I could control every shot, I’d be great but at the cost of not enjoying the game. I was great at my job and could control most aspects of the work I did, but I still quit because it didn’t bring me joy in doing it anymore. I don’t want golf to be a job. I’m here to have fun, release stress, and enjoy nature.
Accepting the uncertainty in turn allowed me to unconsciously loosen up as a played. And being loose allowed me to have a smoother, more athletic swing than normally wanting to control how I swing and tightening up.
I don’t know how often I’ll shoot that low, but I’m inclined to continue accepting the uncertainty and enjoying the game a little more. I know working on my mental game will make a larger impact for me than trying to engineer a better swing.