Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Choking On The Small Stuff
In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. No hungry person is fed, no rogue nation is brought to heel, and we'll still keep marching this nation towards a Socialist status. So why on earth does it feel like the weight of the world is resting on the outcome of a 5 foot putt? Why does it seem like the evening news will be led off with a recap of what happened on the final hole of the GAM Net Team Qualifier?
A brief recap. In 2008, my playing partner Tom and I managed to combine our good play at just the right moments and won the championship over all other 2-man teams in the state. It was a very cool feeling to accomplish something in this often frustrating game of golf. Now, the challenge before us was the defense of that title.
Step one - qualify for the finals. So on Monday morning, we gathered at The Fortress in Frankenmuth. It's a course we're both quite familiar with. Close to home, straightforward layout, no surprises, the Fortress is an outstanding venue for championships and I was ready to get past the qualifying and prepare for a title defense.
But someone forgot to remind me that solid play was an important element in the equation. And as those moments of poor performance start to snowball, the pressure meter is climbing. When we came to the 18th hole, both Tom and I knew we were teetering on the brink of elimination and needed a par (net birdie) to solidify our chances. I hit what I thought was a perfect drive on the dogleg left par 5, but it came to rest at the base of a tree, forcing me to play out sideways. Tom had problems on the tee as well, so it all came down to me finding the green from 135 yards. The shot was blind over trees, but was right in my wheelhouse. Full wedge on the green, two putt for par/net birdie, and hope it was enough to get us in the finals.
And I chunked the shot into the front bunker, failed to get up and down, and carded a painful bogey. Sigh.
We missed the cut line by a shot and deservedly so. The champs played poorly, especially me.
It's a confounding game. Why do golfers magnify pressure to such an extent that it often paralyzes us from even a simple shot? How do we so quickly lose focus on the overall impact of the round? You didn't even know we were playing? The national news is focused on other topics.
Have you found a way to block out the pressure? Or have you stumbled just like we did? share your secrets here. The most insightful, humorous, well-presented response will win 2 tickets to the Buick Open.