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Athletic Anecdote: Just keep swinging

By Denebola
Published: November 2007
By Will Richardson
Dr. Jay Granat once said, “Golf is a game of inches. The six inches between your ears.” I recently learned this the hard way.
One summer night, I strode down the fairway of the final hole on the neighborhood golf course having just finished a casual afternoon round with my friends. I played brilliantly, shooting one of the best rounds of golf in my life. My swing was relaxed and my strategy superb for the whole round.
The sinking sun cast a beautiful, gleaming red light on the green trees lining the course as we approached the clubhouse. This practice round was the day before my tryout for the golf team.
I soon learned that golf for fun is far easier than golf for competition.
The next morning I walked up to the first tee-box realizing I had never played competitive golf in my life. My hands started shaking. The eyes of my team, my coach, the greens keepers, and seemingly the grasshoppers were watching my every move.
When I was taking my practice swings all the composure and confidence from the round the previous day drained from my body. My eyesight became blurry as I lined up to the ball. I tried to shake off the nerves, but nothing could be done. The ball barely made it 50 yards and I hurried off the tee trying to avoid everyone’s glances.
Everything continued to slip downhill for the next hour. I tried to relax, but my shots became more and more atrocious. It was the worst I ever started a round, completely opposite of my play the previous day. My mind twisted as I attempted to crawl out of this hole that seemed to only get deeper.
I stopped, took a deep breath, and imagined I was alone on the course. My efforts seemed futile as my shots showed no improvement.
As we walked up the 12th fairway I had lost almost all hope; I was about 30 yards away from the hole after two poor shots. I took out my wedge and, without thinking, hit a beautiful shot. I watched as the ball skidded across the green and stopped a few feet from the hole. I made the putt for par.
“Not so hard after all,” one of my playing partners casually said to me. Finally, after struggling for so long, I was playing to my ability. I started enjoying myself and strung together a solid couple of holes coming into the clubhouse.
It turns out that despite my mediocre round, I still made the next tryouts.
Ironically, I realized that I simply didn’t have the time for a varsity sport. I worked myself up and focused so hard on making the team, when in the end, it turns out if I had played fantastically nothing would have changed.
The horrible round also helped me to realize how mental golf is and that even the greatest of confidence and ability can crumble when under pressure. I may try out for the team next year, but I will have to think about that.

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