If I knew then what I know now, would I be a better golfer? If I knew 40 years ago what it would take to be a scratch golfer, I might have changed my approach to my game. Would I have practiced more? Would I have purchased better equipment? Could I have played with more intent of lowering my scores? Ah, if I only knew then what I know now!
Those of us who choose one, we each have a unique golf journey. Some are destine for greatness and others frustration. Some start very early and others start their journey later in life. Sometimes it takes a defining moment to make changes like a great golfer giving you a positive look or helping hand:
I cannot imagine the above happening in the early stages of my golf journey. Although the young player does not really understand the significance of Tiger Woods offering a smile, it could be a defining moment in that young person’s golfing journey.
Looking back on my own journey, I am not sure I would want to change anything. I did take a 10-yearish break in my 20’s, but played a few rounds every year. It was more important at that time to establish my life and as such, golf was not a priority. However, around 1990 that changed and I renewed my golf journey with greater intent.
In 1990, I took more interest in improving my scores. It was about this time I started to compete in tournaments. Additionally, I joined my first Base Team in order to compete in the Ontario Regional Golf Tournaments. This became a defining moment in my golf journey because competing provided a greater incentive to improve my game.
It was about then I became invested to improve my scores. For the last 29 years, I have improved, plateaued, changed, improved, etc. For the first 19 years, I was on cruise control and enjoyed all the awesome experiences while playing. In the summer of 2009, I was playing the best golf of my career and was looking forward to what the future would bring. It was at this time I decided I wanted to be a scratch golfer!
Then in Dec, my golf journey hit an unexpected speed bump when I was told I had cancer for the first time. Well, guess where my focused went!?
After taking a few months to clear my head, I started focusing on my battle and not surprisingly, golf played a role in my recovery. I was able to channel many of my physical health fears into my golf game. I found solace in the ability to focus on a passion and to briefly forget about my ongoing battle.
After successful treatment in the first half of 2011, I was given the green light that all was clear. So, I started resuming playing golf in earnest. It was then I resumed my journey towards being a scratch golfer. I physically started to improve from my treatments, but my mental progress was slow. In the off-season between 2011 and 2012, The Grateful Golfer blog was born. It was a way to channel my mental challenges like I had my physical woes earlier. Quickly, my golf journey was back on track.
Over the next 6 years, my journey hit many peaks and valleys. But, there was always a steady increase towards my goal. I became a real student of my game and embarked on learning new skills that would lower my scores. Interestingly, my handicap index reached its all-time low of 2.3 in 2017. I felt that being a scratch golfer was finally in my grasp. Then the off-season hit and after a re-diagnosis in March of 2018, my cancer was back!
I was able to play a few rounds before treatment took over and stopped playing all together in May. My stem cell treatment in August really reduced my ability to physically play golf. This limitation lasted until the end of the season on 14 October. But, this aspect of my journey was different from the last time. Mentally, I was better prepared to focus on my treatment (because of past experiences) and as a result my writing about golf became beacon of normalcy that I clung to as it it was a life preserver.
Make no mistake, nothing about my second health speed bump was easy. But having golf to channel my dark thoughts on was a real benefit to my recovery. On a side note, counting today I have written an article for 208 straight days! I am striving for 365 days, but we shall see if I have enough to say to keep it going.
So, here we are. Just two weeks away from practicing outside and hopefully hitting the links. This summer I plan to focus my time on solid practice and play. My quest to be a scratch golfer is back on track (again) and I am hoping to lower my handicap index to its lowest ever. It will take a tremendous amount of effort, but I am ready for the next chapter of my golf journey.
I would be remiss not acknowledge the tremendous support my golfing friends provide in the last stage of journey. They sent me positive thoughts of encouragement everyday during my treatments. For that I am eternally grateful.
Lastly, my golfing journey would be almost unmanageable without the support of my best friend and wife! See is always there to offer words of encouragement, perspective and sometimes a kick in the butt. Having her beside me throughout my entire golfing journey has made it that much sweeter.
A golfer’s journey is definitely their own. It is unique to what they want to accomplish and in some cases, like my own, it helps manage other aspects of their lives. There is no right or wrong direction and only you can set the course.
How is your golfing journey going?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!