Golf is a challenging game. It offers the opportunity to be great and all that is needed is 20 seconds of insane courage! I am not talking about trying to hit a shot that impossible (and I have tried believe me) but, to make that shot when the entire round is on the line!
Yes, it is difficult to know what to do, but you will know when the opportunity arises. It is a time to throw caution into the wind for the big prize! For me the that prize is breaking par or winning a tournament. That is my goal every time I play and through the years the opportunities were few, but memorable.
During my time on the links, I remember two instances where I wished I had 20 seconds of insane courage! There is no certainty that things would have worked out differently, but not having tried leaves me with the unproductive “what if”!
The first time I had the opportunity to break par was over 25 years ago. I was playing at Borden, Ontario, and it was a perfect day for golf. The sun was shining, it was 22 degrees C and there was very little wind. I knew it was going to be a special day because I opened the round with two birdies.
Fast forward to the 18th hole. I was one under and only needed a par to shoot my first round under par! It is a long par 4 and it was critical to hit a good drive to have a chance to reach the green in two. I hit the ball well off the tee, but it was still about 245 yards from the green. Normally, I would pull out my 3 wood and hit it as far as I could. Some times I would make the green and others I would be around it for an easy up and down.
Then my brain kicked in and I started to think way to much. I started to worry about double bogey if I miss hit the ball and pushed it out-of-bounds. Instead of throwing all caution into the wind and riding my great game, I decided to play it safe and hit the ball in play 75 yards. Well without going into the gory details, I missed the green with my third shot, chipped on the green with my fourth shot and smoothly two putted for a double…..final score, 1 over! I walked away extremely frustrated that I did not have the courage to take the shot I knew I could make! Lesson learned or so I thought!
The second time was not for a low score, but to win the annual men’s match-play event at my home course in Greenwood, Nova Scotia. After 18 holes, we are even. It was a very close match and as the lower handicap player, I had to give my opponent 4 strokes on the 4 toughest holes.
We were playing the 20th hole and I had to give my opponent 1 stroke. When we teed off, he hit is ball into the second cut. He could see his ball and it was going to be a tough shot….or so I thought. I was on the wrong side of the fairway and was jammed by some trees. It was my turn to play first and decided to play it safe and hit the ball in the middle of the fairway 50 yards from the green. My opponent, however, had is 20 seconds of insane courage and hit his best shot of the day. He landed his ball on the green about 25 feet from the pin!
On my approach shot, I hit the ball to within 10 feet. He was away; standing over his putt I knew is confidence was bolstered because of his fantastic approach shot; he hit it perfectly. The ball rolled to the hole and lipped out to 3 inches. I conceded his next putt and the match. He shot a par, net birdie and I could not catch him. Looking back, I let my fear determine my shot selection and in this case, I finished second in the year-long men’s match-play event.
20 seconds of insane courage is important to low golf scores. You will know when the time is right because you will feel it in your gut. It is at those times it is important to rely your courage so that great things can happen. Have you ever face a golf shot where 20 seconds of insane courage could have really helped?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!