Obsession is 2020 #Chasing350

In many ways, 2020 has been a horrible year. However, in one way, it has been a great year – I got to play a lot of golf. Teleworking cut an average of 90 minutes of commuting out of each work day, freeing me up for other activities. A directive from my wife’s PCP that I need to be allowed to get out at least once a week to play golf, as a break from caregiving and work also ensured that I would be able to get out weekly.

Just a few stats:

  • 98 rounds of golf (mix of 18- and 9-hole rounds)
  • 92 18-hole equivalents or 1,656 holes
  • approximately 12,000 balls hit between course, range, and backyard
  • an average of 13,000 steps per 18 holes
  • 1.2 million steps total (out of 4 million for the year)
  • longest drive: 311 yards

Even despite the simple fact that I still suck at golf, it has been a very good year. I should note that while I suck, I suck at a much higher level because my scores are the same playing from the back tees in the winter as they were from the white tees (a 1,000 yards shorter) last spring. Better ball contact, longer shots. Still lacking in consistent balance, rhythm, or consistency.

I am still committed to trying to hit 350 yards at least three times this year. While recently I have felt that it is likely beyond me, I’m not giving up. Yesterday, in the first round of 2021, I hit an 8-iron to within 12 feet on a 178 yard par three. This was my normal swing and impact where the ball soared unbelievably high and then embedded in the green. No roll, no low penetrating flight. I did not mishit and blade the ball. In September, I accidentally hit over this green with the same 8-iron, a full 190 yards. As long as I can keep making shots like this, I believe I can reach 350 yards with a driver.

While I did not find an improvement in scoring, I did find something else. Real enjoyment. I finally learned how to just enjoy playing, regardless of how well I play. Regardless of how many things go wrong….and some days this was really difficult. It also wasn’t just me, it was my playing partner. We both worked really hard on managing emotions, containing anger and frustration, and just plain having fun. It’s almost a whole new game.

Finally, the pandemic may have saved golf, which was slowly losing recreational players. Golf is not cheap, can be very expensive, takes a significant investment of time, it has horrible cultural history (and present), and is insanely difficult for most people. During the pandemic. in Virginia and a number of other states, golf courses remained open while making changes to make it easier to avoid contact and maintain social distance. We see more women on the course, more young people, and more people of color. This is good because it is very easy to make friends on a golf course, if you can’t, there’s something wrong. A broader spectrum of players means a stronger future for the game, regardless of what else changes. Getting to know more people different from you is also a good thing.

I’m looking forward to more golf in 2021.