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.
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.
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.
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.