bogeys and birdies

Sports are great because they are all so unique. The rules, methods, people, challenges, results, rewards, feelings, and takeaways are all different depending on what you’re playing, who you’re playing with, and the level at which you are playing it.

Although I don’t play it nearly as much as I wish I could, I find golf to be one of the most intriguing and rewarding experiences. Here’s why:

The Pace – Slow and relaxing, there’s plenty of time to think about each shot and take in the surroundings.
The Science – Angles, calculations, rolls, spins, trajectories, and slopes all make it a mind game as much as it is a physical one.

The Atmosphere – With the aura around the clubhouse, concentration on each individual shot, and the interaction with nature, it’s always refreshing and relaxing.
The Landscape – The surroundings are always different with so many possibilities with weather, time, and season. Even on some cheaper public courses, the hills, trees, and sand always make an invigorating, lively piece of art and nature.
The Anticipation – Every shot might be the best shot. I sometimes freeze myself up before hitting a 8 or 9 iron because I begin to think I’m lined up so perfectly that I’m going to sink it. Then I’m already thinking about my reaction if I sink it. Then I can’t shoot at all and need to re-think my shot all over again. It’s a fun cycle of anticipation and anxiety.
The Goosebumps – Phil jumping after sinking his putt on 18 at the 2004 Masters. Tiger’s chip-in on 16 at the 2005 Masters. Goosebumps every time.

The Party – You can’t beat golfing with good friends… having good conversation, a good opportunity to meet new people, a good opportunity to build relationships, and a good opportunity to enjoy some beers, dogs, seeds, and cigars.
The Luck – I’m convinced that it’s not a purely mechanical game. There are some things you cannot calculate, such as the wind 75 yards away and 100 feet up or the surface moisture or dead spot 10 yards from the green. Therefore the rest of the game is filled in by luck – good bounces, rolls, gusts, and magical forces.
The Rules – It’s a game of honor, patience, and etiquette, and therefore helps guide life lessons. Noonan

The Unattainable – One always can improve. There is always more to learn, and every game is different. It never gets old and tomorrow is a new day. No one has ever hit an ace or eagle on every hole and that should make you strive to keep playing and improving. Most people have never hit an ace, and that alone gets me out there with excitement each time.

I’ll end with the best advice on golf I’ve received, from my cousin Kenny… Go through the same routine before and during every shot. Same steps, thoughts, swings, pauses, breaths, and time. With consistency comes improvement (and more manageable mistakes).
The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, “A flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a danish.”
Photo 1: My whacked out swing at Rock Creek Golf Course, great photography from Benny T.
Photo 2: East Potomac (Blue) Golf Course on 5/30/2009, with my favorite tree in the world in world in front (Japanese Red Maple) and a nice Weeping Willow in the back left.
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