The great thing about golf is that you learn something every time you tee it up. Whether it’s something about your game, the course you’re playing, or yourself as a human, the learning opportunities are everywhere. And unfortunately, as I learned this year, adversity also offers some of the best opportunities to learn.
Although it has still been a fun and productive season, it’s been frustrating when it has come to my physical health. I’ve been struggling off-and-on with some lower back, left glute, and left leg pain/stiffness and haven’t felt 100% for the majority of the season. Nonetheless, I was still pretty hyped for this year’s club championships.
The week leading up to our 3-day event was the best I had been feeling in quite a while, even though I was only about 80%. I had some treatments during the week, did some light practice and felt decent about my chances of putting a few good rounds together.
The evening before Round 1, Beth and I headed out in a cart for a few practice holes after work. After a couple holes I started to feel pretty tight and sore in my left glute. I tried not to worry about it too much and we cut our practice a bit short and headed home for our usual stretching and rolling routine. When I woke up on Friday morning (Round 1), the pain was so sharp in my left glute that I could barely walk up stairs or avoid limping.
I was pretty deflated but hoped it would ease off as the day went on. I took some Advil, rubbed some Voltaren on and hoped for the best. I still walked the course since I’m stubborn and believe that’s how competitive golf should be played, but it didn’t feel very good. Between the physical discomfort and being my first competitive stroke play round in 365 days, I couldn’t get any parts of my game going. This led to an opening round 86 which shot myself out of contention.
I was frustrated, but in the end I was proud I grinded it out. There were moments during the round where I considered withdrawing and pulling the plug on the whole weekend, but I wanted to finish and at least give myself the option of playing the weekend. Club champs is such a fun weekend and I wanted to be playing and involved in all the festivities.
I swallowed my pride for the next 2 rounds and took a power cart. Although I still wasn’t feeling great, this helped me quite a bit physically, and I managed to improve by 6 strokes each of the next 2 rounds, shooting 80-74. Although rounds of 86-80-74 wasn’t what I had envisioned heading into the week, I was proud to continue the trend I started at last year’s championship of improving each round. If only I could fire a low first round!
I ended up missing the 2-day cut for the championship flight and started the final round 7 shots back in the consolation flight. My final round 74, which included a bomb for birdie on the 18th hole, managed to leapfrog a bunch of people and inched me into the runner-up position (via countback) which still earned me a cheque.
So what did I learn from this tournament experience?
- This is kind of obvious, but if you want to do better in tournaments, it helps to play more tournaments. Although taking a cart in the final 2 rounds helped me physically, I also got progressively more comfortable playing in tournament conditions. A year is a long time between stroke play events, and tournament golf is a skill that requires practice to hone.
- Always grind it out. Unless you think you’re doing permanent physical damage by continuing to play with an injury, you’ll always be more proud of gutting it out when looking back, no matter what the score.
- I still love golf even when I can’t play my best. Even though there were times of frustration and a bunch of discomfort, I still loved being out there in a competitive setting and playing the best game in the world with a bunch of awesome people.
- Although this is something I’ve been realizing for a while now, I clearly need more discipline when it comes to my fitness and self-care routine once summer gets really busy. I think the root cause of the physical issues is from sitting way too much at work and golf simply exposes it, but health needs to become top priority.
- Golf is about more than the result on the scorecard. The social gatherings after the round, the ribbing, the laughs, the beers, and the stories about what happened out on the course are some of my fondest memories.
A big congrats to Logan Carver for defending his Calgary G&CC club championship title, and to runner-up Luke Scrymgeour for another hard-fought battle! Last but certainly not least, congrats to my wife, Beth, for her runner-up finish in the women’s championship flight. She’s trending!