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I played in my club championship this past weekend...

I play in a lot of tournaments, but, nothing prepared me for what I learned playing in our Club Championship this last weekend…

I’m not going to do the “good writer” thing and bury the lead, making you read the entirety of this thing to find out what you already want to know, which is:

How did I do?

If you’re anything like me and always look for that: “Jump to Recipe” button when you’re on the internet trying to figure out how to make cheesecake or kung pow chicken or whatever, I’ll save you the click. Here is “How I did”: I’m not going to lie, I did pretty well. I went season low on the first day with 2 birdies and shot a 40 on the back 9. Played steady eddy on the second day with 2 back-to-back birdies which was a first for me. I took 3rd in gross and 1st in low net. Let’s just say this all felt highly out of character as a course 16 handicap, and this was not for lack of any stiff competition.

Now that you know “How I did”, I want to get into the "how I did", because the "how" is the entire reason I wanted to write about this experience, is because based on the results, the how I did kind of happened…on accident.

My golf buddy and I are best friends on and off the course. We both started playing about the same time roughly 6 years ago, and thus our golf journeys have ebbed and flowed and crossed paths in a kind of “dance” if you will. It has been interesting to see how we both have approached each aspect of the game over the years; noting how we differ or share the same goals, processes, and results. At this phase in our journeys, we have both more or less settled into our own respective rhythms of golf pedagogy. She, being a dancer by nature is process-driven: meticulous and deliberate with every shot she commits to. She wants to learn how to do things the ‘right’ way. I have seen her change her swing more times than Jennifer Lopez has changed husbands, but at the end of the day, and when she connects well with the ball it is truly supernatural. She, unlike me, likes to bring this exercise to the course, even if it doesn’t fit into her current physical vernacular; she is down for the grind during her round. I on the other hand have become more results-driven, a little more compartmentalized in a way. Having played a plethora of sports and being mindful of the importance of having a strong mental game as well as a physical one. So that being said, I try to leave my 'practice' at the range or at the putting green. I have learned that personally, my best chance for a good round of golf happens when I ‘leave the grind behind’™ when approaching the first tee.

So that being said, let’s get into what all of that has to do with how I played in the Club Championship. “How” being the operative word…

The Club Championship is a different kind of tournament. It's a special time when the energy is different, and it is the ideal opportunity to establish yourself among the best and most respected players at the club, ‘performance’ dependent of course. Now golf is a “gentleman’s game”, and what that means to me, is that the term ‘performance’ extends beyond the scorecard, and is additionally representative of a player's attitude, conduct, and overall consideration for the game, it's heritage, and other players. Just take a look at how some of the LIV tour players have been treated around the greens during the PGA majors – in golf, a respected ‘performance’ is about more than just ball striking. I have seen how the way that a golfer represents themselves on and off the course can absolutely affect their game as well as those around them. That being said, I try to keep it simple: what you see is what you get with me. And the “me” is a lady. Yes, a swearing, drinking, and at times highly un-couth lady(#knowyouraudience), however, when it comes to the comfort and respect of those around me – there is no guesswork, my intentions are honorable. I take pride in my ‘performance’ all around, and unless you give me a reason to otherwise socially divert, you have my respect and the benefit of the doubt.

With this definition of ‘performance’ in mind, I greatly respect the high-'performing’ golfers at my club. I try to honor what they have accomplished. I watch how they conduct themselves, and I pay attention to how they treat others, and how others treat them. When positive, I try to learn from and by their example. As a results-driven person, I do this by practicing what I preach and put these values in motion every day. So, what does this have to do with how I played in the Club Championship? Well, as it turns out - a lot.

The most important relationship one can have on and off the course is with ones-self. This is of course easier said than done. As I’m sure most of you can relate, there is nothing quite like having the round of your life, and as you stand over your next shot, something in the back of your head screams: “Hey don’t blast this one out of bounds, lol”. Peace out, ball – Sayonara low round - Hello burying my sorrows on the 19th hole. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to actively notice when that little voice pipes up, and say to it: “Listen here you little fucker: I hear you, and I acknowledge that you’re scared, but right now I need to hit this shot”. And then, in turn, go forth, fully commit to, and hit that next shot. Why is this so difficult!? When I step back and think about it from 10,000 ft, this is actually pretty simple. All that little voice is saying, is that there is a part of you that is scared because if you are not able to execute it this shot, that you will feel silly and stupid and thus out of control. So what better way to feel back in control than to sabotage the shot – hey, at least if we commit to sabotaging it, we can feel like we were in control of the result right? Well, if that’s the only thing holding me back from hitting the shot, then that’s pretty dumb. The truth is that the only way I’m going to contently walk away from any shot, executed well or not, is if I fully committed to it. Even if I do end up blasting it out of bounds, at least I don’t have to walk away wondering “what if I actually tried to stay in it – what might have happened?” As a 16 handicap, it didn’t feel right to set a goal of winning this thing, so I decided to set more of an intention, rather than a goal.

The intention I committed to was this:

For better or for worse, I am going to stay “on my own team”, for two rounds. I am going to authorize myself to fully commit to every single shot. I am going allow myself to care, and I will not allow myself to be made to feel silly for caring. I’m going to leave it all out there and see how far it takes me. I’m going to commit to “staying in my body, and out of my head”. I’m going to commit to smiling and breathing through every shot. I’m going enjoy my own company, and I am going to show up for myself, 100%, regardless of the result.

And that’s just what I did.

Let me tell you something, I have never felt more grounded on the course in an otherwise high-pressure situation, ever. My lower body felt sturdy and still, my hands felt soft, my core felt strong, and my posture felt tall. As the two days progressed, those little voices in the back of my head got more quiet, and faded further into the background. I didn’t ignore the voices, but instead let my inner Ted Lasso take over: I proverbially patted them on the head, and I let my belief in the next shot be bigger and louder than the voices. My intention became a living breathing part of me, taking the reins of decision-making away from my self-preservation. It filled the nooks and crannies of my brain that lie in wait, ready to be filled with the all too familiar doubt, or fear, or excuses. My intention was like a warm crystalized fog that left no mental space for anything other than itself.

So, does this mean I executed every single shot the way I wanted to? Absolutely not, however, the bad shots were exceedingly easier to digest. It was the difference between slicing your drive and wanting to throw your driver onto the adjacent green and quit golf forever(hey, we all be feeling passionate from time to time), versus, a fleeting whisp of: “well that sucks, but on to the next”. In turn, the bad shot did not go on to poison the shots directly following suit. Because I fully committed to the shot, I have no regrets for lack of trying, and there was no room left for self-punishment and sabotage. I didn’t walk away from that bad shot getting stuck in the typical feedback loop of the “what’s” and “why’s” of a shot that didn’t make the cut. There was no pit of emptiness after the bad shot, or that feeling of a “missed opportunity” simply because I had filled that void with my intention before I even set up to the ball.

During play I didn’t look at the leaderboard a single time; I genuinely had no interest in how I was measuring up to the field, I just wanted to measure up to myself. But no one is perfect, so in those rare moments when I did feel myself veering from my intention, I tried to recenter myself by exercising gratitude: When I had a free moment, I looked up and reminded myself of how lucky I was to even have had the opportunity to play. When I set up to a drive, I exhaled, I believed, and I hit the ball. When I stood over a putt, I held the finish of that stroke until I heard the ball drop – full commitment. I never once felt silly, or out of control, or disappointed. I never felt threatened, or afraid, off-put, or deterred by my intention. I finished my final round more proud, exhilarated, and personally interconnected than I ever have in golf. This performance felt fully representative of the golfer and person I want to be all the time; betting on myself and reaping the social and emotional payouts with my fellow man. So, the results-driven person in me received the most fascinating and fulfilling results I could have ever hoped for, well beyond any baseline of expectations I could have set (and honestly didn’t). All by setting an intention. This isn’t a feeling I will have to chase because the process can be recreated – time, and time again. These results spoke for themselves, long before I finished this competition, and the results-driven person in me found a way to marry process and intention to create one fantastic and fully accessible result. I think I’ll be continuing to vet these results throughout the rest of the season, and into the next, and until who knows when.

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