Golf in February…is that so wrong?

Having grown up in the Midwest, it just seems wrong to me that I can play golf (outside, on a real course, without flying anywhere) in February. The wrongness factor is magnified by the fact that I can call my parents in Chicago to hear reports of the weather getting “up into the 20’s” (Fahrenheit) on the same day that I got a sunburn playing in 80-degree weather.

But such is life in California! And in northern California, it means that the day after you play golf in 80-degree weather, you can find yourself wearing a “winter” coat to fend off the cold evening windchill.

I have not lived here long enough to miss the snow. And there are some things about snow that I’m convinced I’ll never miss – like shoveling the driveway in order to get to work in the morning. I have not gone skiing since I moved to California, even though I grew up downhill skiing every winter in the mole hills of Wisconsin. I do miss the crunching sound of fresh snow under your boots, the “flying” feeling of bouncing up and down in knee-deep powder (no, they don’t have this in Wisconsin, but I’ve experienced it further West), and the artistry of carving beautiful symmetrical turns on a cruising blue run. But I don’t miss them enough to leave California during a nice stretch of February.

On Saturday I played all 18 holes at Stanford Golf Course, and really enjoyed it. I was really focused on seeing if I could do “better” than I had the last time. I don’t mean getting a better score. I actually mean that after this particular round, I wanted to feel better about my decision to invest in golf. No matter what I scored, I wanted to feel more in control of my efforts to hit the ball than I did a month ago, and to have a better understanding of what I needed to keep working on. I also went into the round just wanting to enjoy the day – the weather, the environment, the people, everything.

The things I remember about the day are (1) my sunburn (which I take as a badge of honor because I got it in February without having to fly anywhere), (2) one particularly beautiful 9-iron shot from the fringe that miraculously landed on the green within putting distance of the hole (OK, for me, that is miraculous because getting both the direction and the distance right at the same time pretty much never happen to me….and never mind that I then 3-putted the hole), and (3) generally feeling more positive and less self-conscious than I was last time. I of course still mis-hit plenty of shots, but I was able to move on to the next one without dwelling in the embarrassment or frustration of each bad shot.

In other words, my real improvement came in managing my emotions in light of everything (both good and bad) that was happening with my game. Maybe the key (and what really required the most conscious effort) was deciding to enjoy whatever happened on a sunny day in February when I got to play golf.

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