From the Braver Institute
For the past couple weeks I have been dragging out the story of my last round of golf for the year. As regular readers know, this year I have developed an addiction to golf. Some people get hooked on drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, I am hooked on golf.
As the month of October wore on I was starting to get a little nervous that I wouldn’t attain my goal of scoring under one hundred on eighteen holes or under fifty on nine. When I started playing earlier in the year my score was in the one-twenty-five area. Now I was scoring just slightly above one hundred. This is a big improvement, but not quite to my goal.
The last week of October found me in Lansing at a conference. Actually it found me at a break in the conference. As luck would have it, Michigan State University’s golf course was less than a mile away. If I skipped lunch I could probably sneak in nine holes.
Off to the course!
In the pro shop (much to my surprise) the gentleman working there informed me that today was the last day of “Customer Appreciation Week” and golf was free! I couldn’t believe my fortune! I had planned on walking nine, but now I was thinking of renting a cart and driving eighteen. I took the cart and set out to get nine in. If time allowed I would play more.
I was doing great. Perhaps the best I have ever played. But then I caught up to a guy who was walking. He was just fast enough that I couldn’t justify playing through, but slow enough to mess up my rhythm, and my game fell apart. This also blew my chances of playing more than nine. Oh, well. Any golf is good golf and if this was to be my last round, so be it.
But it wasn’t.
I returned home Saturday evening. Sunday was cold but sunny. I had to try one more time.
For the first time I would have an opportunity to walk the entire course and I was really looking forward to it. It was one of those fall days where it just feels great to be alive.
Somewhere in the middle of the front nine I suddenly realized the appeal of golf to me.
I was a boy at the advent of video games and I grew up with them. While video games can be played against other people, they are more a challenge between you and the machine, and maybe even more so a challenge against yourself. Playing video games you are always trying to beat your previous high score. I loved that challenge. It became clear to me that the golf course was one big, interactive, real life, video game. It was me against the course. It was me against me.
For some reason I was playing worse than usual, but I did manage to get my first-ever birdie and my hopes were raised for a moment. After that my game fell apart again and I finished the round with a dreadful one-thirteen.
I was getting tired and really hungry, but there was still enough daylight left to play another nine. If it had been September I would have gone home, but it was the last Sunday in October and this could be my last chance. I teed up a ball.
I was sore from walking the previous eighteen so I had to take it easy on this nine. Mix in my hunger and it was kind of like playing wounded golf. I hit everything nice and easy. I didn’t have the energy to hunt for an errant ball. I wasn’t playing exceptionally well, but I wasn’t playing bad either. I played consistently and at the end of the nine I was very surprised to find that my card showed I had scored a forty-eight. I had hit my goal!
It’s a good thing I played that extra nine since it truly was my last round or the year. The next time I went to the golf course there was a big sign next to the clubhouse that read “course closed.”
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org