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Tournament Recap: Handling Disappointment

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has followed along and for all of the kind words and messages. I cannot tell you how much all the support has meant to me. For those that I have not responded back to you, I will as shortly. I really enjoyed writing about what I was doing, and I hope you found it both interesting and helpful in how it relates to your own game and your personal goals.


Unfortunately, this week did not go as I would have liked. I shot 76-76 and finished T41 out of 106 players. I did not accomplish my goal of qualifying for the PPC and the drive home after the event was a long one thinking about how I have to wait another year to try again. It's always disappointing when you work at something and don't get the results you want, especially when you feel like you put in quality effort to try and make it happen.


The Event:

I was able to get a practice round in on Sunday and get a good feel for the course. I solidified my game plan for how I wanted to play each hole, club choices and target lines off the tee and felt very good about how I wanted to play the course. Sunday night I spent some time visualizing the holes and how I wanted to see myself playing. While I was excited for the event, I felt very good about my preparation.


The morning of an event I am always nervous, anxious or whatever you want to call it. My mind races and I have to work very hard to slow it down and get myself focused on what I'm doing. The night before I outline my plan for the warmup and everything I need to do, so that I don't have to think in the morning and can just get into my routine. This morning was no different. I start to think of all the things that can go wrong, how bad it can be and any worse case scenario that you could possibly imagine. This may seem strange, but I think it is helpful for me. When I think of all these outcomes, I remind myself that no matter what happens I can handle it, and life will still go on (This is a big thank you to Dr. Bhrett McCabe for helping me realize these thoughts are ok).


Once I get onto the range and start to hit balls my mind gets quieter, and I focus on what I'm doing. Things are fine until it's time to get on the first tee. As I walk to the first tee and my name is announced, I feel the adrenaline pumping. I get a bit shaky, and everything feels loose in my hands like I can barely hold the club. I worked really hard knowing this would probably happen. I took a deep breathe with my head down, looked up and asked myself a very simple question, "what are you trying to do?" I found my target, made a rehearsal swing and hit a beautiful 2 iron down the fairway, and with that I was off.

The build up to the first tee is a major issue for me. Once that is over with, I settle down pretty quickly. Once I got to my ball in the fairway, I felt fine and was able to focus. From there I hit the ball really nicely the first few holes. What I didn't do was putt very well.


The greens on the course had not fully healed from being punched a few weeks ago. They had some speed but were rather bumpy. Good solid putts held their line most of the time, but you could get a bad break and miss. On the 3rd hole I had a 5-footer for par downhill, it hit a mark on the way and wobbled out of the hole. On the 4th hole I hit an 8 iron to 3-feet for birdie and this time I hit a defensive putt, it again bobbled and missed the hole. The two misses got to me, and that is my fault. I allowed those putts to make me overly cautious and tenative, and from there every putt felt like a challenge.

Despite being 2-over par through 6, I felt like I did a good job of staying focused and continuing to compete. I hit two great shots on 9 and for a 2-putt birdie and made the turn at 1 over par. I made a sloppy bogey on 12 with a bad iron shot but was able to get it right back with an iron close on the par 3, 13th hole. I was grinding my way around well and keeping myself in the event. Unfortunately, I made a poor bogey on 14, then pulled my tee shot into a penalty area on 15, and after dropping, hit it on the green and 3-putted for double bogey. The 76 was a painful as I worked really hard to keep the round together despite issues I was having on the greens.


On day 2 I felt good. I knew I still had a chance if I could post a good number and overall, I felt good about my game. Despite a 3-putt on the first, I hit the ball really well early and gave myself a lot of good looks. I was only able to convert one of them and again my putting let me down. Even with that I turned at even par for the day and with the way scores were going, I knew I was a good back-9 away from having a chance. I hit really good shots on 10 and 11 and missed makeable putts. Then on 12 I hit a sloppy iron shot and didn't get up and down. On 13 I missed the green and hit a poor chip and 3-putted again. That bogey and double bogey ended my chances. I still competed the rest of the way in, but I did have a letdown after 13.


Post Tournament Reflection:

Once I got back from the event and had some time to reflect and think about the rounds, I was not overly disappointed. I entered my stats and looked at the rounds and what made me happy was that the key areas I worked on improving, were better than they had been. My driving and approach numbers for the event we both better than my averages. The work I put in on my swing did show progress and positive results under the highest of pressure. Throughout my career penalty shots and big misses have killed me in tournaments. This week I only had 1 over the 36 holes.


My disappointment was in my putting and short game. Those have always been my biggest strengths. I allowed myself to get tentative because of circumstances I could not control and took away my biggest advantage. How I handle situations like that going forward is something I will have to evaluate and address, as I am sure this will not be the last time, I play an event on imperfect greens. It was also a huge reminder, that while I knew I needed a lot of work on my swing, I cannot neglect the other parts of the game and just assume they will be there when I need them.


Takeaways:

My biggest takeaway from all of this is that trying to get better is a lot of fun. I really enjoy the work, the planning and the process. Seeing results and progress takes a lot of effort, but even the little victories are rewarding. It is also a very stark reminder that golf rarely allows for a crash course of prep to be ready for a big stage. The work must be consistent and constant.


Finale:

So now I have a year to get ready for the qualifier next year. I have proof that I'm headed on the right track and now I have time to work. I have 6 weeks until our Section Championship to end the season so I will continue to prepare for that to try and end the season on a high note and look at long term planning for next year.


We know golf is a journey and the goal is to keep getting better. Golf, more than any other sport in my opinion, is ripe with failure and disappointment. How we use that failure and disappointment is what matters. My goal now is learning from it and continuing to get better, so that hopefully on the back-9 next year I can finish with a different feeling.


Thank You:

Thank you again for all the support and messages. It has been a pleasure to write these posts. Now that the event is over, I will continue to post, but I will be pivoting the content. While the last 5 weeks has been all about me, going forward I will be blending content. I will be writing more about game improvement, swing and practice tips and other topics that I think will be interesting and helpful to everyone.


Also, please follow me on the social media platforms below. I post there regularly with thoughts on the game and the tips for your game.


The best part about coming home from an event are these two. They don't care how I played or what I shot; they are just happy to be reading a book together.




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Perhaps the best reminder of what's most important in life is the picture of you reading to your babies. Thank you for sharing your journey. It's inspirational, it's human and exposed, and most importantly, it's just the beginning.

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Arthur Nielsen
Arthur Nielsen
Aug 10, 2023

Steve: Thanks for sharing. I know you must be disappointed, but holding down a job and being a great dad plus "the luck of the greens" may have just been too much. I can't agree with you more when you said, "Golf, more than any other sport in my opinion, is ripe with failure and disappointment." This has certainly been true for me. Tho I didn't take up golf until I was 45 and, like you, have had considerable success and won tournaments, I would say that it is the sport/activity that I have put more time in than anything to see marginal and sometimes eratic results. I think the disappointment can be a killer, but, like you, I think…

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