In my childhood days, my father would often bring me out to the golf course to play a father and son round of golf. In particular, I remember quite well the Salinas Golf and Country Club. We were members there and my father kept his own fancy electric golf cart in a large shed out back.
The 5th hole was a long 175 yard par three with a steep downhill drop of around 75 feet, an out-of-bounds fence on the left past which a bunch of straggling cows meandered around in an arid meadow. In front of the tee box, there were a bunch of trees in the way, so you had to launch the ball high enough in order to clear the tree tops. In those days I was a big slicer and hit the ball low, so this hole was especially challenging for me. Most of the time I'd hit my ball right into a tree or just graze the top and have the ball swatted down to the ground with a thud. I had never hit that green in regulation with my father, and standing on the tee box I was especially nervous.
I dearly wanted to prove my worthiness, that indeed I had become a true golfer, in my father's eyes a hero of exceptional qualities. To make matters worse, my father occasinally prodded me on with a challenge. He said that if I hit the green he would give me five dollars. Wow, five dollars! Back in those days you could buy a popsicle for a dime (ten cents) and a can of Coke for a quarter (twenty-five cents), so five whole dollars seemed like an amazing amount of money to me, true riches beyond imagination.
This challenge where winning money was the name of the game made me extra nervous, drastically decreasing the chances of me hitting the ball very well at all.
My arms and legs felt rubbery and my swing became weak and sluggish due to the extra pressure. However, this process proved to be an excellent proving ground for me, honing my skills of concentration under pressure. Then one day it happened. I teed my ball up extra high, aimed to the left of the hole right along the out-of-bounds fence, and managed to make a mighty swing.
The little white ball flew high and disappeared into the sky. Way over the trees. Instead of slicing like it always did, the ball had the sweetest little fade you could imagine. Once launched into the celestial realm, it was now in God's hands.
The trajectory was mathematical in form, that natural parabola to which the laws of nature and physics constrain ball flight. Things looked very promising. Bounce, bounce and bounce, and the ball rolled right up onto the front of the green. I did it! From that day on, my father called me the "Sweet Swatter" a title which I carried proudly and with honor.
Even to this day when I have an especially tricky shot under pressure and need to concentrate, I remember the good old "Sweet Swatter" days which (more often than not) helps me play much better.