The Journey to Improve

I’m not used to being bad at things. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to quickly find success in a number of ventures, whether they were academic, professional, or athletic. Here’s a little confession: I’m sort of bad at golf. Maybe bad is a little strong. I’ve played two full years and have broken 90, but I’m not nearly as adept at this game as I would like to be. I’m certainly not as good as I expected to be the first time I went out to play. I still remember the first time I swung a driver at a golf ball. I was truly amazed that the ball didn’t go straight. As it tailed off into a wetland to my right I wondered what was wrong with the club. My lofty expectations were attributed to video games and some success I’d seen with a baseball bat in my hand, so it was pretty crushing to shoot a 130 that day, especially since I was granted more than my fair share of mulligans. However, the defeat I felt didn’t break my spirit. It did the opposite. I made it my mission to learn how to play golf. Oddly, my average score is around 40 strokes less than that pivotal day, yet I feel like I have farther to go than when I started.

I’m always amazed at the silly things we do to make ourselves better at golf. I certainly wouldn’t have attempted to learn to program computers on my own, but I’ve spent countless hours at the driving range trying to teach myself how to swing. I’ve read magazines and books, watched videos, and asked everybody I know how to make that little ball go where I want it to. The accumulation of knowledge and practice has certainly made a difference, but I do have my regrets. I’ve spent many dollars and many hours working on things that weren’t wrong and I’ve incorrectly tried to fix things that were wrong. That doesn’t make much sense. What’s even crazier is that I know I’ll probably do it in the future too.

I’ve taken some lessons and they’ve done wonders for my game. I went from the 130’s to the 120’s to the 100’s and now the 90’s pretty quickly after working with my teaching pro. Still, I’m more hesitant to call him when things are wrong than I am to call the local course for a tee time. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s reality.

This year I’ve made a concerted effort to improve my game and it’s paying off. I’m hitting the ball straighter, higher and further than I ever have. I don’t slice the ball anymore and only hit a few fat shots a round versus the dozen or more I used to hit. My scores have improved. Not as much as my ability to hit a golf ball, but learning to score is different than learning to swing. I still make stupid mistakes and don’t always realize the effect that each swing I take has on my total score. That being said, I’m still not satisfied. I’m shooting scores that many recreational golfers will ever shoot, but I don’t want to be average. I want to be better.

I’ll be spending my time at an indoor facility with another teaching professional this winter. I have plans to make today’s good scores tomorrow’s bad ones. I want to sniff at breaking 80. I want to make more than five birdies a season. I tell myself that I’ll be happy if I get to that point, but part of me knows that I’ll be just as concerned with the next milestone once I reach this one. Through it all, I have to remind myself that this is just a pastime. I’m never going to make a dime from golf unless I happen to bet a buddy a couple bucks. As my mother always told me, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” It’s that thought that helps me keep from getting too angry when I top a drive up next to the ladies’ tees. I have to laugh it off and understand that it’s just a game and I’m a lucky guy that gets to play it. It’s almost selfish to be angry at something that brings such pleasure.

As my season enters its final couple months I’d like to think I will be able to go out and forget about my score for awhile, but it’s not going to happen. I still need to break 85. I still need to tell the 90’s good bye forever. I still need to grab an extra 20 yards off the tee and drop four more putts a round. I’m going to do them all too. I’m not sure exactly when it will happen, but eventually it will. Either way, I’ll be smiling while I’m trying. So, take heart, fellow hackers! You are not alone and there is hope for us. If it’s looking grim, just shake it off, hit the next ball and hope some more. As you work on whatever goal you have I’d like to invite you to stop back here every couple weeks. I’ll be sharing the ups and downs of my journey and maybe we can learn from each other along the way. At the least, we’ll have somewhere to celebrate our victories and complain about our failures. Thanks for reading and best of luck out on the course.
Ryan H.

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  • Ryan, excellent writeup, I admit that I am in the same boat. Thanks for sharing!

  • You have put to words almost exactly what I’m thinking. What can you do, read minds? Mind control? I hear the Twightlight Zone theme in my head………..

  • Nice write up! I have a whole new respect for GolfTec lessons after this article and the ask the pro section in the forums. Definitely something I need to do soon.

  • Great stuff Ryan – need goals to progress and glad to see you not settling but taking the steps to become a better player!

    Bring that A game next year – you have a few big events coming up!!

  • I really liked this article Hawk! Your progress and your passion to improve really shows and I’m excited to tee it up with you at the outing.

  • Nice job Ryan, keeping up with this and watching your progression will be very informative for all of us. I hope to benefit from your positive attitude and direction.

  • You can do it Ryan and I admire your determination. Keep your focus and the spirit you bring to the game and you will see some great stuff down the road!

  • Great article Ryan. I, like you, struggle to get over the hump from a low 90s player into a low 80s player. I’m looking forward to reading more of your updates and hope to hear how youre in the high 70s by this time next year.

  • Amazing article Ryan. You just put words in the mouth of any somewhat serious golfer. You
    Want to improve, but you’ll definately have fun the whole time! I love this and I’m excited to hear what’s next!

  • Great write up Ryan. I think you can do it over the winter. I can see you bringing it to the outing next year breaking 85 consistently. You just keep working at your game and seeing that professional. Great job.

  • You have such a gift with words. I love this article and I can’t wait to follow along. You’ve come a long way in two years and you definitely need to give yourself credit. I get told that a lot. Becoming good at this game is a long process (at least for most of us) and it takes a lot of practice and determination. Best wishes on your journey!

  • Great writeup.
    Just keep plugging away at what you have been doing and I am sure the 85 barrier will come and go soon. When you get more confident with your swing, those extra yards will follow.
    Don’t fall into the old trap of banging it out there an extra 20 yards but being 30yards wide. If you are on the short stuff more often than not you will find it more productive to work on your iron apporach play as that is what will set you up for a score.

  • Excellent read Ryan! Look forward to following your success! Good luck.

  • I loved this article Ryan. I know we kinda share the same journey and I looked forward to the day you’re averaging less than 80 man. Keep up the good work my friend!

  • This is a great article Ryan, so many of your statements ring so true with myself too. A good buddy recently asked me if playing at a what he calls high level takes some of the fun out of the game. He said, you are so good, but do you ever just go out and have fun at it? I do have fun every time I play but it’s different, like you said, the bar is always rising. The best thing to do is just enjoy the ride and keep trying to improve but always have fun. Excellent write up!

  • Awesome read Hawk. You and I are kind of on this journey together, but it’s not a race. I hope we both get there, and look forward to following your progression buddy.

  • Great article Ryan. I love your candor and honesty and always have. It’s why I respect you so much.

    Good luck on your journey and looking forward to following along. I know you’ll get there.

  • Excellent write-up Ryan. You and I were/are much in the same boat. The first two paragraphs really echo my struggles with the game to date. I’m waiting to hear from an instructor so I can begin my journey to playing better so one day I too can break 100, 90, and hopefully 80. Time will tell, but I’m optimistic. Thanks for sharing.

  • Very introspective read Hawk!

  • Good stuff Ryan, you speak the simple truth and I really cannot wait to follow this.

  • Ryan, great stuff man. Your honesty in assessing your own game is to me what truly makes you the great reviewer that you are. Our games share a lot of the same faults so I take your reviews very seriously. Keep working over the winter and maybe some birdies will hatch this spring.

  • Ryan, this could have been written by me, except I took up the game 30+ years ago, but didn’t really work to improve until around 2008. I look forward to both of us shooting 80s on a regular basis by the time MC 2.0 rolls around.

  • Very well written Ryan. I’m sure there are a lot of folks in the same boat as many of us. It’ll be interesting to follow your journey and see how it mimics others. Well done.

  • I am actually really moved by this, your atitude toward the game and improving is outstanding. I hope you find what you are looking for in your game as you improve. The spirit of the game is intact within you my friend

  • Excellent article Ryan, it should ring true for most of us. I’m about the same place you are even tough I’ve been playing on and off since my teens. I’ve spent countless dollars on “miracle training aids and gadgets” looking for the quick fix that doesn’t exist. I not only salute you for your dedication, I also hope to join you in the journey!

  • That was a great read Hawk and we can all relate. No matter what level of golfer you are, you are always trying to get better and shoot better scores. I will be following your journey closely.

  • Great article there Ryan!! I am looking forward to tagging along along with you on your journey.

  • Very nicely put, we all feel it and you have stated it very well. Keep the faith Ryan, it will get better.

  • nice write up…. lessons were the best thing i ever invested in my golf game hands down!

  • Really loved this Hawk! I think no matter if you are trying to break 100, 90, 80 or break par, this applies to all of us. There are so many aspects of the game that we all need to work on, the trick is to enjoy yourself while you do it.

  • Great musing, Hawk. I’ve been fortunate to break 80 a few times this summer and usually shoot in the 80s and 85 or less on my typical courses. That said I suspect that I will never leave 90 behind forever…but one can aspire!

  • I will never say bye bye to the 90s. It’s like visiting an old friend. We have a few beers and share some memories. As long as I can say hello to the 70s every other round or so I’m fine. Nice write up.

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