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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's Important About the Process?

Sandlapper Tournament
Lakeside Country Club, Laurens, SC May 28, 2013
The LPGA Tour players who are warming up for the Shop Rite this weekend may be better golfers than the amateurs who played in the Sandlapper Tournament yesterday at the Lakeside Country Club, but there's more to a golf tournament than the final scores on the leaderboard.  The process of actually playing the tournament is crucial, and that process involves people as well as equipment and physical environment.

We played some golf, struggled to navigate a cramped golf course with considerably more goose poop than directional markers, and after we had posted our scores we ate some classic Southern fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and cole slaw while we applauded each other's victories in all 5 flights.  Our knees are a little more worn than the LPGA tour players and our tummies are a bit less flat, but we feel the same iconic adrenaline rush when we check our scorecards line up for the tee box.

Lakeside in an interesting course, crowded into a fairly small space with very little rough to buffer adjacent fairways and some artfully placed water hazards that scream Snakes! Snakes! as you line up your shot.   That's in addition to the goose poop.

"You can run into your neighbors on this course if you're not careful," one of the women in my threesome said, by way of commenting on my drive when it took a hard right (yet again).

There are other challenges as well.  The 18th hole, a par 5, has a small pond directly in front of the green.  Although most of the women I play with choose a lay-up 3rd shot and hope for a quick up-and-down for a par or know going in that they're going to accept a bogie rather than lose their ball and gain 2 strokes, some of the long hitters actually are able to reach the green in regulation by sending a long, high shot over the 10th hole tee box.  But most of us aren't risk-takers,.  We're steady golfers who play a fairly conservative game, trying to stay in the short grass and relishing the occasional sexy lob shot or long putt that follows the contour of a green perfectly and drops into the cup with a pleasant clink that always reminds me of a slot machine.

Layered over the playing of the round is the fabric of golfing relationships -- some longstanding, others unformed until we played together.  I accept going in to competition that others are better golfers and are going to post lower scores.  At the same time, I expect that as we compete, when I make a good shot or successfully complete a challenging putt the women against whom I'm competing will acknowledge and compliment that small accomplishment, and I will do the same.  I am rarely disappointed.  In the game of golf,  reciprocal support, generosity of spirit, and competition aren't mutually exclusive but, rather, intertwined and interdependent components.  It is for this reason that I can enjoy my round of golf, as I did yesterday, even when I play badly, which I did yesterday.

Tomorrow is another day and I will, again, pull on my lucky purple shoes with the flashy golden soles and take to the links with my friends.