Golf can be a very cruel sport. You are playing the best you have in years, hitting the ball without effort, sinking putts and punching chips right next to the flag. That's the moment when disaster strikes without warning.
Three weeks ago I was having a fantastic front nine, and I was two under par going into the sixth hole. I nearly drove the green and was just off of the fringe on the left side pin high. Had a simple ten foot chip. Looked like I would get the ball close and make an easy putt for yet another birdie, to go three under par. I was feeling pretty hot, and nothing could stop me now.
Instead, here's what happened. I flubbed the chip and the ball barely rolled onto the green. Then from six feet away, I three putted for a bogey. Something in my head snapped and I had a complete disconnect with the rest of my body. I could feel it and was getting pretty nervous. The more I tried to ignore it, the more I began to panic. Things were about to unravel and I could feel it coming.
I ended the nine holes with a bogey, double-bogey, par. Thirty-seven, not bad. Then I had a nine on the par five tenth hole, followed by a double-bogey, double-bogey. The more I tried to calm down the worse things got. I shanked the ball, pulled my drives to the left, duck-hooked my approach shots. Ended the back nine with a triple-bogey on the eighteenth hole, for a total of forty-seven.
In the span of twelve holes, I had gone from two (almost three) under par to fourteen over par. Had I had an aneurysm without noticing it?
Since that disastrous meltdown I have been a complete basket case when it comes to trying to play golf. The following round of golf I even had a fifty plus forty-four, and then the week afterwards a forty-four plus forty-seven, ouch. A complete loss of confidence. I even starting topping the ball into the water ten feet in front of me, and once the poor ball only just made it to the woman's tees.
Golf is a cruel sport. Sometimes it just doesn't make any sense, no matter which way you try to look at things. From one instant to the next you can be playing a stellar round and then the club in your hand feels like a heavy piece of plywood, the nice white ball becomes a heavy metal marble.
I've been really nervous playing golf lately, no confidence, no nothing. Waiting for the next shank or topped ball to come. Until today, that is. Things seem to be getting better ever so slowly. Broke eighty, hurray. I guess there's hope. The golfing gods have forgiven me.
The strangest thing of all is that my swing feels pretty much the same. I'm not so sure what I am doing differently which all of a sudden has improved my game so drastically. More than likely something very minor, perhaps a minimal tweak of my grip, combined with some very major changes in my mental being, more confidence and positive thinking, the knowledge that yes it's still possible to play a good round of golf if you put your mind to it.
Maybe I won't sell my golf clubs and cancel my club membership after all.