This time of the year my game is usually as dialed in as it is all year long. By now I’ve overcome spring rust and had tons of rounds and range sessions over the summer to fine tune my swing and my feel. This is also the time of year I whine and snivel about the pending winter snow, and the following several months in which golf in my area (Salt Lake City) is closed or just too damn cold to play.
This year it is different.
My game is not at that fine tuned level this time around. I’m shooting my worst scores of the season, struggling to play to the level of a 15-handicap, not the usual 1-handicap I’ve been for a couple of decades. Despite feeling like I have as much power as ever and despite feeling like I’m hitting solid shots, I’ve been very disenchanted with my game. In fact, I’ve become disenchanted with the game of golf. During my struggles and rounds over the last couple of months I’ve found myself fantasizing about quitting golf, entirely. Forever.
In order to play at a level in which I can feel somewhat satisfied I need to play golf four to five times per week or as Tiger would put it, get in my reps. I’ve been fantasizing about all the things I could do instead of all that time spent hitting a ball with a stick–all the ways I could be more productive in my work or have fun with my family. I’ve been fantasizing about doing something different than golf, like my latest passion of building and flying drones and aerial photography/video.
This year as winter comes around the corner, I I’m welcoming it. I’m frustrated with my game and deep down know I can’t play any better than I currently do, given that I only have the time to play 18-27 holes per week. When I do play I become frustrated and emotionally fragile, with the smallest mistake or penalty able to crush what little confidence I have.
This year is different.
I’m at a crossroads in golf I feel. I’ve loved the game for many years but the realist in me knows the game can’t be mastered and it is not likely for me to get better without making a serious effort which I’m not sure I’m able to make. I’m also feeling a bit of a grudge toward the game. I’ve put so much into golf over much of my life, but the game relentlessly beats me up and will never ease up. I nearly walked off the course a couple of times in the last month or so, out of frustration. I’ve been close to selling my gear on ebay and shutting down this blog. 10 years has been a good for HOG run no doubt. I’m what I would call an “absolutist.” If the day comes that I do quit, that will be the end.
This weekend I had a small glimmer of hope, like the flat part of the golf course with the flag in it Robin Williams talks about, “just to give you hope.” I have some new irons which I feel better about and have tried to lower my expectations and accept what state my game, my psyche, and my emotions are in. I also have been trying to be less hard on myself for my mental mistakes and physical errors.
Right now I’m in a fog, or as snooty Californians call it, a “marine layer.” Perhaps the fog will clear, just in time for winter. Perhaps not. Maybe it will get worse. After all, in golf no matter how bad it gets, it could always get worse.
My frustration in the game has made it harder for me to get excited about blogging about golf. I must be interested to keep doing this. Plus, changes in Google and the SEO the big golf media outlets have implemented have knocked my revenue from this blog down to nothing. So I’m back to deciding whether I keep doing this for the “love of the game.” It sure as hell isn’t for the money.
Maybe the five-hour rounds, the difficulty of the game, and the cost are finally getting to me. Or maybe my golf fog is a reflection of my personal and work life frustrations. What came first, the chicken of the egg? Maybe it’s time for a midlife crisis and I should go buy a Porsche and get it over with. Hell. I don’t know and I’m not sure it matters. I’m golfing now almost out of habit, and wanting to still be with a couple of my golf friends who I normally would not see. Most of my competitive groups have dissolved. People have quit, died, moved away.
I’ve become very jaded and tired of the standard golf media as well. It’s an endless stream of hot tour wives and girlfriends garbage along with stupid initiatives to “grow the game” which will never work.
Gear wise I’m really tired of the equipment release cycles too, and “this is our longest driver EVER!!!” advertising campaigns. Really? Why don’t you tell me EXACTLY HOW MUCH LONGER IT REALLY IS then?
Just like my fantasy of quitting golf, I dream of unplugging Facebook and Twitter and turning off the endless drivel coming out of the golf world. I get as excited about a new “longer” driver as I get about a new brand of laxatives. In fact, at my age the laxatives might just be more interesting and are certainly more useful than spending $499 to gain 100th of a millimeter in distance.
Tony…welcome to fatherhood! I too was exactly like you…hours on the range which I loved, actually got down to a +1, and loved the thrill of competitive golf. My girls got older, and the day was coming where I knew they would be moving away. An injury here, and injury there shelved me for a season. I have never had the earl retire to go back, but the itch is still there. Hang in there…Seve will help your decision. If he takes up the game and loves it, you will be reborn. If he loves soccer or ice hockey, we’ll buy a fuel efficient SUV and enjoy the travel!
I stopped playing golf after my 1st kid was born. Now, they are playing and I am having a lot of fun playing golf with them. I’m a low teen handicap and I still think I can get better but for low single digit handicaps, I think you will need to lower your expectations regarding scoring if you aren’t playing/practicing a lot. My goal is to enjoy playing golf for the long term and hopefully instill that love for the game with my kids. If you manage your expectations and take breaks from golf, you’ll still love the game later in life.