Monday, September 07, 2009

I've Lost My Swing

It's true...I haven't been on here in a while. It isn't for lack of events happening in my life. On the contrary, I have been quite active in the last few weeks. I had three weeks off from my last trip to Scotland, in which I was able to go to two different weddings for cousins, one in Utah and one in Colorado. I played a ravishing game of Kickball with some fantastic cousins, and Scott came into town for a whirlwind 72 hour free-for-all Fun Fest.

I also, thanks to a dear friend of mine, once again took hand to club and started down one of my addictive paths, and started playing golf again, and found that I had lost my swing.

For those of you who may not know, or haven't had the pleasure of knowing me for more than 3 or 4 years, there was a time that Golf was my obsession. I wasn't a fanatical die-hard by any means...but I certainly was a fan. I even bought Golf Magazine...and read it!

But the confounded game wasn't always something I enjoyed. The first time that I really took the time to play the game was only because one of my mission companions made me promise I would try it when I got home from Russia. So, according to my word to him, a few months after getting home, I went out, bought a cheap set of clubs and played a round. It wasn't awful.

But I didn't love it either.

The only thing I took away from that game was an immense satisfaction in driving the golf cart. That was the sole provider for fun that day. It happened to be the crux that got me to play again.

A few weeks after that first foray into the fairway, a close friend called me up and asked me to go golfing with him and two other guys. I reluctantly agreed that I would join them, but only on the agreement that I get to drive the cart. That was acceptable.

The game was okay. But still not drawing me in.

Fast forward a few more weeks and the same group of friends need a fourth player. I dragged my feet, but still ended up going. It was on this round that IT happened. I found my swing.

Despite this event happening over 12 years ago, I can still picture it as though it happened yesterday. I could take you to the spot and show you what happened; however, since I am in Scotland and you probably aren't, allow me to paint a picture.

Nestled at the base of Payson Canyon is a golf course called Gladstan. I remember as a youth, the big to-do around town that was the creation of this golf course. I had never really visited it as a child...but once I got hooked on golf...I found out how beautiful this course really is. It wraps up and down the canyon, surrounded by wilderness and prosperity on both sides. It has some pretty challenging holes, and a few that are straight and simple.

Hands down...this is my favorite course. And this is the reason why:

Hole number three is a dog-leg left (curves around to the left), with a large water hazard (pond) running along the left-side, and the driving range blanketing the right. It is a fairly wide fairway, and on that day, the flag was set right in the middle of the green.

Up to this point in my play, I had never done anything extraordinary. This time really wasn't going to be an exception, because frankly, my expectations weren't there.

But as in the past, I set my stance, addressed the ball, took a deep breath, and while slowly letting it out, pulled back and released my full swing.

And I saw a perfect drive. Now it by no means went all the way to the green...few people in the world could have done that. However, this drive was a perfect, straight arch, landing exactly where I had wanted it to go. It was in the middle of the fairway...but it wasn't the landing that amazed me. It was the flight. The course the ball took from its stationary resting place on my tee, through the air, with mountains as a backdrop, and its eventual landing and continuous roll down the fairway to rest in a perfect line with the flag.

That was all it took...I was hooked. Since then, I have been chasing that perfect drive, hoping to achieve it once more. Trying to find my swing.

And each time I do...I want it again.

So for many years...I was a regular out on the golf course. I soon found that this was a sport that, (although I didn't exactly excel at), I was quite proficient at it. I soon upgraded my ShopKo clubs to a more powerful, (and more pricey), set of graphite shafts. I went as often as possible, and even, at one point, shot a sub-par game on the back 9 of Hobble Creek Golf Course, without cheating.

But then I stopped. There really wasn't a reason for this conclusion. It wasn't as though I made a decision to stop golfing. I just didn't get out anymore. Life got busy...I got a new job...moved to California...adjusted to that life...then almost as quickly, moved back to Utah, where I once again readjusted my life. I threatened many times to take it up again...but never did. With all that lack of practice...I had lost my swing. I just didn't realize it.

All this leads up to about 3 weeks ago when my good friend Jonathan calls up and says, "We're going me at East Bay."

I won't lie...I was reluctant...but I went. And I am glad I did. I remembered why I love the game. But I also learned that I couldn't play very well.

My first round of 18 holes, I shot a 110. Over the next two weeks, I played about 7 rounds of 18. My last round, I shot a 92.

I'm starting to see glimpses of my swing.

It is a game that can never be won. Only played. Sure, you can win a competition, or against another player. But Golf is the one sport where you are eternally competing against yourself, and never going to win. It forces you to look at yourself and your actions honestly, with only you to offer condemnation or praise.

A physically strong person can crush incredible drives from the Tee Box and look all impressive. However, a paltry Body-By-Gilligan, with his head on straight, can still win the hole. Golf is a game that is 80% mental...and only 20% physical. If your mind is distracted, you will never play well. The course of your game, often reflects, (quite accurately), the course of your life.

I had the joy of going out with a couple of my cousins and friends. My cousin Craig had seen his swing on only his second and third attempts. I remember walking up to the 5th hole of Hobble Creek, with him and thinking, "Ah Crap...another sport that he is going to be better at than me."

A few days later, I witnessed Scott find his swing as he nailed a perfectly legitimate Birdie. While he raced around the green, screaming with excitement, all the while tearing his shirt off, I thought to myself, "He's hooked."

I remember a time where if someone were to ask me, "what are you passionate about?", I would have responded with "Golf".

However, the last few years, if someone were to ask me where my passions lie...I don't think I could have honestly answered the question with any confidence.

It's curious that this time period also seems to correspond with my lack of inspiration and desire for writing.


Maybe I can re-find my swing...and not just for golf.