In my late teens and into my early 40’s I was a great golfer. My ego made sure everyone knew that I was a great golfer. I played only the best courses, had the best equipment, had the cool clothes. I was awesome. Just ask me and I would tell you. I loved telling people about my 300 yard drives, 50 foot snake putts for birdie and my dead accurate iron game. I was the guy that had to make the group I was playing with wait for the green to clear on a par 5 after they all had laid up. I was going to hammer my 3-wood 275 yards off the deck and onto the green and they were lucky enough to witness my awesomeness!
OK, so I am exaggerating a little. Some of it is true. I talked a great game. But my scorecard slapped my ego in the face. Hard. And left an imprint. You see my best score ever is 83. I shot that bad boy twice. On both occasions I needed a 4 (which was par) on 18 for a 79. I had hit that driver 300 yards once or twice. That 3 wood, too...once or twice. Sure I sank a few putts every now and again, but I carded more than my share of 3-putts. You see, my ego provided me with certain expectations and I expected to play great on great golf courses, every time. What did I do to make sure I would be great? Practice? Ha! Sure, I’d hit a warm-up bucket before the round (sometimes). Lessons? Ha! Remember my awesomeness?
I had to be miserable to play with. It would start with my frustration that the golf course didn’t look like the one on TV. My ego wanted to play the best courses, but my budget said “no”. My clubs were knock-offs and the built in excuse I had when I often hit bad shots. My clothes…not so much.
And I was a Pace of Play killer. They didn’t play ready golf on TV, why should I? I needed to mark that 2 foot tap in for double bogey, because the pros did. I needed to know precise yardages, because on any given shot, I could hit my 7-Iron 170 yards; or 125 yards; or 30 yards to the left or right of my target. So pacing off to sprinkler heads did me a lot of good. I am sure the 60 golfers behind me loved me.
And my temper was just a refreshing change to the good sportsmanship you mostly see on a golf course. You’ve all played with me. I know I come in different shapes and sizes, but you’ve played with me. I was miserable and playing with me couldn’t have been fun. I blame my ego.
Then everything changed. When my daughter turned 5 she said she wanted to play golf. So I took her to the range. She went to summer camps and she loved it. We started playing a few holes here and there. And she got good. We played more and more. It was very humbling as she is better at 8 than I ever was. I started having fun playing again. It didn’t matter what I scored, where the ball went, what course we played or how I looked. To her, she was happy, I was the best and that is all that matters. When I don’t play with her I miss her. She is without a doubt my favorite “golfing buddy”. I have fun with my other buddies too, because I left my golfing ego in the woods years ago. But I am so glad that my favorite golfing buddy changed my outlook on playing. Golf for me is what it should be now…a joy.
Billy Casper Golf
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