August 5, 2013

At the end of Tom Coyne’s Paper Tiger – the insipration and my constant companinion during my 2012 Golf Quest – Coyne’s application for PGA Q School has been rejected, and he’s been reduced to attempting to qualify for the South American and Australasian tours. It has not gone so well. After the tens of thousands of balls beaten and putts practiced, all the sessions with his swing coach Dr. Jim Suttie and his sports psychologist Dr. Bob Winters, and the hundreds of practice rounds he’s played, while reducing his handicap to better than scratch (+0.4) he’s nevertheless finished near the bottom of the field in qualifying events. Still, the book has a happy ending: after missing the cut in Australia, he presents his fiancée with an engagement ring by the 18th green and they find a kangaroo-infested course where he’s playing simply for the fun of it while his bride-to-be flashes her ring in the sun and they count kangaroos instead of his strokes.

Like Dr. Suttie told Coyne right up front, “golf is hard”.

It’s a warm July afteroon at Cape Ann Golf Course, the bright afternoon sun slowly being displaced by milky clouds sliding in from the southwest as I scratch my way around this lovely, yet rustic nine-hole track. And like Tom Coyne’s final round with the kangaroos, I’m playing my final round of New England golf for the year for the sheer fun of it. There are no Goodboys around, no pressure putts, no expectations whatsoever – I’ve hitched up with a nice middle-aged couple, Jim and Maureen, who have graciously permitted me to crash their little afternoon soiree. No longer a Goodboys trying to put up a number, I’m just the perfect golf stranger playing my game, keeping up, not showing anyone up, just a casual round of golf with some friendly people.

It all seems so anti-climactic. Just a week ago I was knee-deep in Goodboys Invitational competition, completely focused on the task at hand, playing each shot one at a time. Same game, but entirely different when played in competition and your goal is gaining respect and putting up a number. Today, for the first time in months, there’s no competition, no agenda, nothing to work on – I’m just hitting shots when it’s my turn and complementing my playing partners’ good shots when it’s not. It feels so strange to be playing with nothing on the line, yet quietly exhilarating in its own way. It feels reassuring to know that when I have to bear down and make good shots I can do it: for example, a 30-yard sand wedge from deep rough over a bunker to two feet (sunk for a par 3), and a pulverized 4-hybrid after a skulled tee shot that helped me save par on a long, uphill par 4. Most of the time, however, I’m just playing for the sake of enjoying the game, not fighting with my swing, not a golf care in the world.

It was only after stashing my clubs in the trunk of my rental and sitting at the clubhouse bar over a cold Sam Summer draft that it began to sink in that I had accomplished everything I had set out to do this year. I had shot a rocking-chair 48 that featured a couple of pars, a couple of double bogeys, a few great shots, a couple of dumb mistakes. And it seemed so ordinary. My final hole served as a fitting coda to my 4 1/2 months of golf immersion, if only because it seemed quintessential Great White Shank golf – a smashed driver off the tee that cut off a dogleg right a tad too aggressively, a Mickelson-esque 5-iron from a tight lie under a broad maple to just off the green, a chip onto the green and two putts for a scrambling bogey five.

At the bar watching an uneventful weekend news broadcast, I thought back to that late early-March night when, needing something to take my mind off of work, I had absentmindedly picked Paper Tiger off the bookshelf and began leafing through it. An hour later, I’d decided to make Tom Coyne’s journey of several years prior my own and commit myself to a 4 1/2 month quest to immerse myself in a game I had struggled with for two decades and through maximum effort, education, and innovation see where that journey would take me and how good I could become. I knew it would take no small amount of time, money, and dedication, but it seemed something worth trying, if only to see where and how it all ended, and if I had the mental toughness to see it through to the finish.

What a ride it had been. I thought of all the swing changes and equipment changes, the lessons and the practice, the thousands of range balls hit in the Arizona heat, the dozens of rounds played, and, most of all, the people, places, and experiences that have made the journey so fascinating. If it were just about the golf and only the golf, I think the whole experience coming to a close would leave a sense of emptiness and deflation, but the feeling of self-satisfaction and quiet elation told me it had been more than just about improving the way I hit a little a white ball – it was about accomplishing something I had set out to do, enjoying the ride for the sheer experience of it all, and using my blog to share those experiences with others whether they liked it or not. 🙂

Now it was all over. I thanked the bartender, said goodbye to the pro shop attendant, and stepped outside into a glorious early New England summer evening. The clouds had dissipated and the sun, now low on the horizon, burned bright orange against my face and skin. I popped some surf tunes into the CD player, backed carefully out of the tiny lot, and headed out to see if I could find a place with fried clams and scallops that didn’t have a long wait (I didn’t). Instead, I found an empty ice-cream shop where I ordered myself a tall chocolate frappe and turned south towards home. There would be no more New England golf to play this year, but there was still plenty of New England summer left to enjoy.

Next: some lessons learned and a few final thoughts as to where I go from here.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:11 | Comments Off on Mission Accomplished – I
No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Search The Site

Recent Items


September 2021
April 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006



4 Goodboys Only

Site Info