Persisting through disappointment…an update on my golf game

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my golf game (or, more accurately, the emergence of my golf swing). In recent weeks, I have had less success in making the time to practice, which I attribute to two main factors: one is a recent flurry of changes to my normal schedule including concerts, rehearsals, interviewing new parents, and setting up some special events for the school this spring (how’s that for a long list of excuses?); the other is a mild feeling of discouragement after playing my first real round of golf (a twilight round of 14 holes at Stanford Golf Course) since starting to take lessons.

The first reason is self-explanatory (I haven’t been making the time). But the second reason merits some analysis. I went out and played the round at a point when I was still on the verge of making major swing changes. I had just achieved a new level of consistency on the practice range, but had not yet had the luxury of trying to apply my fundamentals to the variety of challenges that a real golf course presents.

So I had a rough round.

More importantly, I was pretty disappointed in myself for not hitting the ball as well as I had been the previous several weeks on the practice range. And with each shot, I just became more stuck in the belief that I couldn’t hit the ball as well as I had previously thought. In retrospect, it was a recipe for disaster because not only was I physically underprepared to make the shots, but I was also mentally reinforcing the likelihood of doing poorly by telling myself I wasn’t good enough to play yet.

So the past couple of lessons I have had to really grit my teeth and show up, despite all the voices in my head saying, “How crazy is it for me to think I can learn how to play golf at this point my life and with my schedule?” and “Maybe I should decrease the frequency of my lessons until I find time to practice more often” and “I really shouldn’t be playing real rounds of golf for a LONG time.”

But, equipped with a lifetime of experience (yes, mainly from violin), I knew that I needed to overcome those voices and that this period of time would actually be the most important for me to keep up my commitment to lessons, and to the process of finding the time to practice, and to the belief that if I just keep going and keep listening, I will get through this and onto the next step. And it is through the accumulation of success with little steps that the big goals are accomplished. In a culture filled with illusions of quantum leaps and instantaneous rewards at the press of a button (or sometimes with no effort at all), I remind myself that the pursuit of the seemingly impossible really is the accumulation of many small possible steps over time.

After a great lesson last week, I now feel recharged and remotivated, mostly from a renewed belief in the possibility of hitting the ball well.

It does help that I have a really professional golf instructor (Hi Russ!), who has a deep knowledge and love of the game, along with a strong belief in his students’ abilities. When I show up at lessons, even after not practicing, we deal with what is there in that moment, and I try to walk away with some objectives for my next round of practicing. I would say that as important as any of the physical fundamentals of the swing that my instructor has taught me has been the positive mindset that must be incorporated into my practicing.

Creating the time to fit in the practicing is, of course, my job!

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