Yesterday, 23 odd years into seriously pursuing golf as a hobby, and 2 years into seriously pursuing lessons on the swing from a knowledgeable teacher,* everything came together and I shot an 81.
81 is not a spectacular round of golf. 81 is just two strokes away from the generally accepted milestone of breaking 80, which generally makes an 81 heart-breaking. 81 means at least 9 over depending on the par for the course, and implies a healthy number of bogies, double-bogies, or worse.
81 is a spectacular round of golf when, for the previous decade, your scores have hovered around 93, dipped to the occasional 90 (not quite breaking 90 is similar torture to not quite breaking 80), and have ballooned above 100 more often than not. Shooting a solid 12 strokes better than any round so far this year, and 15 strokes better than a week ago... well, that's a breakthrough.
|Natanis Tomahawk Course, October 7, 2015|
Golf is mentally exhausting. Every** shot requires focus, faith, and execution. Successes have to be instantly recalled for that focus; failures have to be quickly acknowledged and then forgotten. Because now it's time for the next shot.
Golf hurts your feet. It's not just walking 4-6 miles during a round, it's the role the feet and legs play as the foundation of the swing, from putt to chip to driver. You use your feet, be it 60 balls at the range or 18 holes on a course.
Golf is German-engineered. Way too many factors and components, physical and mental, are involved in a swing. When they are all tuned and firing correctly, a golf shot has an unbelievably smooth, schnik-schnik feeling. When something is off, just a bit, that steering wheel vibrates in your hand as you go down the road.
Golf rewards. It is a series of plateaus rising into the distance, with tough climbs and the occasional slide into a valley. My 81, 15 strokes better than a week ago, is a reward. It's confirmation that it can be done, and that the plateau has been reached. You can't shoot 81 and fail to repeat that feat. Golf knowledge accumulates.
There will be more 93s, but there will also be 84s, 80s, 77s, and, ultimately, a 72.
Par for the course.
* Rawn Torrington, T's golf in Manchester, Maine. An hour lesson a week with serious range time afterward
** Every, every, every stroke is a massive mental-construction project. Tap-ins can be missed. Chips can be flubbed. Don't rush for any reason.