The Final Round

As my loyal readers know, the majority of this blog is dedicated to my deep and unending love of literature and Disney (and Disney literature). But this blog is called “Books, Birdies, and Earl Grey” for a reason.

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Me, Brigette, and Maddie at a golf tournament.

My last post about golf was back in 2013 and at the time I thought I would be more willing to talk about my golf journey. As it happens though, golf has taken a back seat both on this blog and (all too often) in my life. These past few weeks, however, I have really been thinking about the fact that this semester is the last time I will play for a golf team–ever. For the last eight years, golf has been a constant activity in my life and now that it’s on the verge of being a much more difficult (and expensive) hobby to maintain, I realize exactly how much I’m going to miss it. From the hours spent on the driving range every weekend, to the 7 a.m. practices to the hundreds and hundreds of golf holes I’ve played, I’ve learned so much more than just how to swing a golf club.

My very first golf coach, Jeff Strong, came into my life at the perfect moment and was just tough enough to get me out of terrible habit–quitting. Before I played golf I had tried just about every kind of extra-curricular activity my parents could sign me up for: track, volleyball, basketball, softball, guitar lessons, piano lessons, band, tennis, fishing, hunting; you get the picture. I was the type of person that did something until I realized it was too hard to get by on natural skill and then I quit. I didn’t like to work very hard at things (except school, but that was different).

After my first few lessons with Jeff, he looked me square in the eye and said, “You can do this. You have potential. But you’re going to have to work at it. And I don’t teach people who don’t work hard.” I left that lesson feeling both good (I had potential!) and scared (Wow, this guy is serious). I guess that one slap in the face ended up being exactly what this former quitter needed to hear; within four months of my first golf lesson I was playing on the varsity golf team at my high school.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

This lesson continued in college. Playing Division III golf brought on a whole new set of challenges. College was hard. Golf was hard. School was harder. I had to learn how to balance an even more difficult course load with the added pressure of being a college athlete. Luckily, I was once again blessed with an amazing coach, Carla Spenkoch, who not only helped me transition into the routine of college golf, but continued giving me what Jeff had for four years–the encouragement and toughness I needed not to quit.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

I’d be lying if I told you golf was easy. In fact, anyone who tells you golf is easy is lying to you. It’s a game of patience, perseverance, and hard work–and sometimes you can put your whole life into it and still not come out a winner. But I don’t think God put golf in my life to teach me how to win. I think God gave me golf for the friendships, the life lessons, and the stability that I would not have gotten from anything else.

As I start this last golf season, I don’t know what role golf will play in my life after college. All I know is that I plan to make the most of it (and maybe, finally, place in a college tournament or two) and that the life lessons it taught me will be with me long after I stop playing the game regularly. No matter what–it’s sure to be a great final round.

Putting for Patience

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Trinity University’s third place win.

Every time I walk off of a golf course after putting out on the last green, I almost always have the same thought: The LORD is testing me. I still haven’t quite figured out what He is trying to show me but I know that He is using this game to teach me something. This week was no different. My golf team had our last tournament before we head to conference this past week. It was a long, grueling, and at times very painful three days. Don’t get me wrong-my team did AMAZING–we finished in third and pulled a miraculous win over the Number 1 Division 3 school in the nation. But I had a very difficult three days. Missed putts, bad swings, and stupid decisions cost me 12 shots. I know that may not seem like a lot, but when your heart and soul is in this game, it truly is a test of your patience and humility.

There is almost nothing more difficult than smiling and congratulating your teammates on their great round when on the inside you are dying to be them. You want to hit the fairways and knock it close to the pin and make your putts. You want it so bad, and it just won’t happen. So you practice more and work harder and try your best and go play only to have the same results. Nothing. You are truly giving it everything you possibly can but you feel like you are getting nothing in return. It’s exhausting. Finally you get so tired and worn down that you realize something–it isn’t your time. No matter how bad you may want it, if the LORD isn’t ready to give it to you, you aren’t going to get it. At the end of the round, all you can do is chalk it up to experience, look up to the clouds, and pray you learned the lesson God wanted you to.

So you keep swinging. You keep playing. You keep praying, having faith that you will get your turn. One day it will all come together and you won’t have to push through the disappointment to smile. But until then, you just keep putting for patience.

First Tee Jitters

So here it is, my first blog post. It reminds me of hitting my first tee shot in a tournament. That I-know-I-can-do-it-but-I’m-nervous feeling that makes your heart race and your breath short? Yeah, that one. Anyway, here goes nothing.

I love to read. Anything and everything. I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember and I can vividly recall being more excited about getting new books for my birthday than the newest Barbie. From Shakespeare to Hemingway, to Oates, my tastes encompass just about every genre you can think of. Every reader has her favorites though. Hemingway is my go-to author; I truly think he is one of the most brilliant writers who ever touched pen to paper (or fingertip to key nowadays). Jane Austen is also a favorite. Her superbly witty prose can keep me entertained for hours….but I don’t want to get carried away.

Golf is also an important part of my life. However corny it may sound, this sport truly has made me who I am today. From moments of complete achievement and exhilaration to moments of utter defeat and frustration, this sport has taught me what it means to persevere and be humble. Every day I play golf is a battle; some days I win and some days I lose. Every day is a lesson. Perhaps that’s why I love the sport so much. (Not to mention the emotional roller coaster is eerily similar to reading a book). I love to challenge myself, and there is no better way to do it than to play golf.

As a college athlete, sometimes it is difficult to find time to read what I want to when I have so many other obligations and responsibilities. But at the end of the week, I always find time to curl up in my twin-sized bed big chair with a cup of my favorite hot tea and read the books I love. This blog is for those stories–the ones that make me laugh, the ones that make me cry, the ones that remind me why I love to read. And maybe, MY story will help other people discover the rapture, beauty, and wonder of books.