Ever since Leslie and I traded one coast for another several years back – we moved Los Angeles for Miami in case you were wondering – I’ve had a hankering to get good at playing golf. The sport is pretty much unavoidable in South Florida because you have outstanding courses everywhere; plus we lived within spitting distance of the Biltmore Hotel & Golf Course with the first place we rented in Schenley Park. (That’s Gables adjacent if you are familiar with the area.) I casually played the game as a kid growing up, but when we decided to move to Florida part of the deal was that I got to take a bunch of lessons and try to actually get good.
I know that for many people, golf is boring or seen as stuffy. I’m like the game for a few different reasons. I find there’s nothing quite as relaxing as walking a well designed and maintained course. Now I usually play the Minneapolis city courses which are great but they generally have a lot of wear and tear. But a few times over the season I’ll treat myself and play at a course that may be more scenic or in better shape. There’s something to be said for walking down the fairway on a quiet morning at sunrise or walking a course on the cusp of fall when the foliage is just starting to turn.
But I also like the game because at times I can be competitive as anybody and golf allows me to compete on many different levels. I can compete against myself and work on trying to improve my swing. I can compete against the course and try to improve my scoring. Or I can compete against other players when I’m out for a round.
Now in the time since we moved to Minnesota from Miami, my golf game became a bit stagnant and I was having trouble getting my scoring below 90. So a couple seasons ago I started taking lessons from a terrific instructor at one of the Minneapolis city courses. One of the things that I really like about this teacher is that he doesn’t try to complicate the game. He keeps pushing me to stop thinking so much while playing. Instead he encourages me to let my athletic side takeover. Step up to the ball, get addressed correctly in relation to the ball at my set up, and just take a nice athletic swing. It’s as easy as that.
And that’s just what I needed to hear. It’s always been easy to let the noise in and get distracted by how to address the ball, how to start my back swing, how to shift my weight, how to pause at the top, how to start the downswing with my hands, how to pronate my hands through impact, and how to finish correctly with my follow-through swing.
Watching the U.S. Open golf tournament this past weekend, I was amazed to see how effortless and athletic Rory McIlroy’s swing looked when he was toying with the Congressional golf course en route to scoring his first major victory. (Take a look at that swing – it’s unbelievable how fundamentally sound he is and how still he keeps his upper body.)
It really reinforced the lessons that my local pro has been giving me. But in addition to that, I think there could be a lesson for my job as well. Be prepared, know your business, know your customer, have a point-of-view, get in ready position and take a nice athletic swing.
(photo courtesy of Creative Commons license: Lauren Beyer.)