An essay I had to write for a college class but I felt it should be shared. So much of how we experience life is MENTAL!
Bobby Jones once said, “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course—the distance between your ears.” For sixteen years I have played the game of golf. At age seven, one is more concerned with getting the white ball off the ground whereas at fourteen, mental stamina takes precedence over technique. Because golf takes place over an eighteen hole period, one must remain mentally tough for sometimes a 4-5 hour round. Looking back on tournaments I have played in, one particular experience will stay with me forever.
The summer before my sophomore year of high school, I registered to play in the Westfield Junior Qualifier. Only one player would advance to the tournament in Ohio. I felt sufficiently prepared entering the competition having practiced a great deal. Confident was I in my ability to play at a high caliber despite the other talented players in the field. I played the first four holes beautifully. However, hole five came. Dependent upon who you speak to, this hole proved to be my largest mishap or my most defining moment in the game of golf.
A treacherous, narrow downhill par five; out of bounds lined both the left and right sides and a water hazard guarded the front of the green. I hit my first drive out of bounds right. Regrouping, I teed up the second drive only to slice it right out of bounds again. Slightly frustrated, I teed up the third ball determined to hit the fairway. I faded the ball right again only this time safe within boundary. Laying five, I advanced shot six to the front of the water hazard. Unfortunately, I would slice shot seven out of bounds right again. Incurring yet another penalty, I dropped shot nine and hit it to the green. From there, I would lag my putt to about six feet from the cup only to lip it out and tap in, finally, for a twelve.
Feeling completely overwhelmed due to making a succession of mental mishaps all on one hole, I knew the only option I had was to regroup and move on. Dwelling on the result was not going to help me finish the remaining thirteen holes in a successful, redeeming fashion. My playing competitors silently moved on as did the spectators. Not only was the mistake overwhelming, it was also embarrassing given the handicap requirements necessary of the players to even make it into the qualifier. Teeing off last, I hit my iron onto the par three sixth and two putted for par. I proceeded to play the last thirteen holes in only three over par giving me a final score of 83 at the end of the round.
Needless to say, I did not win the qualifier and advance to the tournament in Ohio. However, I learned the round is not over until the final putt is sunk on the eighteenth hole. I also learned that it is not necessarily just about the player. My fellow competitors and spectators told me after the round how proud they were of me for not getting down and letting hole five defeat me. One told me had it been her she would have cried and was impressed rather, I smiled after tapping in for a twelve. My twelve on hole five proved to be an inspiration for my fellow players and spectators, but mostly to myself. Therefore, as opposed to being haunted by the blunder, I look back and smile realizing it is sometimes the mistakes we make that define us the most, that the five inches between our ears determine who we allow ourselves to be.