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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Become a Mental Beast!

After one of our regular rounds several months ago the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association members were discussing who was and who wasn't going to enter a particular tournament.  I wasn't.  I'd been struggling with some aspect of my game (I can't remember which aspect -- the particulars come and go in this chronic life problem) and felt I wasn't good enough to be competitive.
The Star Fort Ladies Golf Association
at their Mental Beast Best

My golf pal, Betty Bates (front row, far left in the photo), who is about as big as a short minute and plays with her husband's and sons's discarded clubs, and who is as fiercely competitive as she is a gracious competitor, pointed her finger at me (and all of us who play golf with Betty understand fully the deeper meaning of that pointed finger) and said, "Golf is for everyone."  I signed up for the tournament.

Betty is correct.  Golf is for everyone.  At the top level of women's golf, the Wegmans LPGA Tournament provides the current venue.  I anticipate a fierce battle between Inbee Park, the Rolex ranked #1 golfer in the world and teen phenom Lydia Ko, a New Zealand amateur.  Ko beat Park to the top of the leaderboard at the 2012 Canadian Women's Open.  Nobody cried UNFAIR! They're due a rematch. That's golf.

One afternoon, while I was attending a fairly boring professional conference in Louisville, KY, I slipped off to play a round of golf at a local muni.  I was paired with another single who was also escaping the workday.  We played between a foursome of First Tee kids who spent quite a lot of time looking for each others' balls and a foursome of old geezers who struggled to get in and out of their carts.  It was a slow round for both of us, but we were there as much for the peace and quiet of golf's open spaces as for the opportunity to play a round of golf.  Yet by the 3rd hole we'd exchanged handicaps and had a match going!  It was a gentle match, but a match nonetheless.  Our mental beasts had surfaced!

Like my friend Shirley, we're all playing against our own best game.  And we're also always playing against Old Man Par.  The scorecard sees to that.  But the third dimension of our game is our competition against each other.  The Rules of Golf set the framework for that competition, but winning in the third dimension takes more than technical skill, at every level of the game. 

My Google+ golf pal, CoachDayne ( captured the essence of this third dimension:

 I've played with knock-offs, old DCI's, new Taylormade's, & three different types of balls.   I come from the mindset of, "It doesn't matter what you put in my hands, I'm going to tear you up!"  Stop whining about what you can't control, become a mental beast, and destroy your competition with whatever you're allowed to play with!  

While imagining a New Zealander teenager, or 70-something little old lady, or a gentle, mild-mannered youth minister as a "mental beast" may require a small leap of imagination, I can tell you from personal experience that slamming the head of a golf club up against the side of a little white ball and watching it soar over the fairway in the intended direction is an act that can only be accomplished by a mental beast; and every time I execute one of those shots, the beast inside my little-old-lady body lets go with a mighty roar of joy!