Ok, maybe golf is not easy, even if the basic premise might be: hit a ball into a hole. For some reason though, golf is one of the most challenging sports mentally and physically.
Growing up, I was an avid skateboarder, and I still dabble every now and then. The thing I love about skateboarding is that there is always room to grow and improve. From learning new tricks or perfecting the tricks you know, skateboarding is one sport you will never truly master. In fact, there are a ton of similarities between skateboarding and golf.
Golf is another sport that you can never perfect. There is always room for improvement with your score, swing mechanics, and decision making. There is always opportunity to learn new ways to hit the same shot or read a green. I did not know any of this when I made the decision to take up golf last year.
I took the opportunity to learn golf, a new sport and skill for me that I could benefit from for many years to come. While I am not expert, I have learned some key lessons that have improved my game and keeps me going back wanting to play more. Here are some of the lesson’s I’ve learned from my first year of golf.
All my life as a skateboard enthusiast, I engrained in my mind this mentality of “go for broke.” Skating certain obstacles calls for you to go fast to land the trick and if you don’t have the right speed you could end up bailing and potentially hurting yourself.
When I picked up golf, the natural thing for me was to swing the club as hard and fast as possible. I wanted to go for broke. To my surprise this was probably the worst thing I could be doing. If I didn’t completely miss the golf ball, I would either hit the ground behind the ball or top the ball and watch it go a disappointing 10 or 20 yards.
Unlike skateboarding, going for broke was hurting my game. It was only when I took a minute to take a deep breath, slow down my swing, and focus on hitting the ball with proper contact did I find more success out on the course.
Set obtainable goals
After the first few rounds I played with my friends and family, I was struggling to understand why people enjoy this sport and what made it fun. I wasn’t ready to give up golfing, but I certainly wasn’t having as much fun with the sport as I thought I would.
I decided to set some easy obtainable goals while playing in the hopes of having more fun. Lo and behold, I began having a great time and I was seeing results. I knew I was uncomfortable with my swing, so I set a goal to go to the driving range once a week, or at the very least a day or two before I played a round of golf. I became more comfortable swinging which gave me more confidence while out on the course. I set another goal for each time I played a round to have at least one good shot with each club. This gave me something positive to reflect on after each round and excited me to go back and play more. A few good swings make a day on the course worth it.
Go easy on yourself
After the next few rounds with my goals in mind, a little thing called expectations began to creep into my brain. I’ve seen myself hit solid drives, make a 10ft putt, and par a par 4 hole. I began to expect to play at a certain level, but nothing in golf is guaranteed.
It is certainly frustrating when your expectations aren’t the same as reality, but practicing a little patience and having fun can sometimes help your game make a complete 180. In the realm of expectations, I am certainly not a PGA professional. Since it’s my first year, if I hit a shot with a bad lie, I would move it for an easier go on the next swing. Taking it easy on yourself and leaning into the fun of the game while learning the fundamentals make that learning period all the more enjoyable.
Don’t forget the hot dog at the turn
My first year of golf was exciting, frustrating, intimidating, gratifying, and rewarding. It taught me so many lessons and I know there’s even more to learn. For beginners, sunscreen in your bag and a ball in your pocket are key: it’s a long day in the sun on the links and you never know when you’ll need that mulligan. And don’t forget a hot dog at the turn, it’s a total game changer.
Golf requires a great deal of humility, ambition, and courage. The most important thing about golf is to have fun. Enjoy the time you get outdoors and be grateful for the people you know or meet while playing golf. It really is all about the journey, and not the destination, so while I may not play at the level I want to play at now I am enjoying learning and improving every time I go to the driving range or play a round of golf. For my second year of golfing, I hope to improve upon my swing and break into the 80’s.