I wake up extra early Sunday morning from a nightmare. Someone in my dream is babbling incoherently and I’m yelling, “Shut up! Shut up!” over and over. This could be about my work, my relationship, my family or just meaningless. I hate psychoanalyzing my own dreams, especially early in the morning on my day off.
“No worries!” I tell myself, it’s golf day. I had checked in with my usual Sunday partner, David, the night before. We made plans to go to Stubb’s Stewart state park in Vernonia, or as we call it ‘Stubby.’ The course is ultra-technical and plays up and down the side of a rugged hill for about 3.5 miles.
I start the coffee. I mean, I start the motherfucking coffee. It can’t be brewed fast enough. Sweet, delicious bean juice, how I love you.
I get a text from David that he’s bringing an unexpected guest and I think he wants me to guess about who it could be. Not a good morning for me to make stabs in the dark. Lately, David’s been joking about bringing a player he knows I’m not fond of. I’m non-responsive to the text and I think David senses I’m not in the mood.
Good news, he’s bringing Rob. Rob is an all-around great guy with an amazing golf game and an absolute pleasure to play with.
Two cups of coffee at home, a mug for the road and we are on Highway 26 headed for the park. The highway runs out through the suburbs of Portland, past the land of large tech installations mostly owned by Intel and turns into farmland quite rapidly. There’s a last second chance to stop at the mini-mart, Snack Jacks, before we turn north and head into dense, wooded forest area up Highway 43.
We park the car and we’re on the course, warming up with a game of catch. It’s not quite as good as hearing the chains rattle on a practice green, but it works. I do my best to pretend David and Rob have baskets where their chests should be.
Then the round starts.
Not a good round for me by stroke count at all. Hole one starts off with me missing an easy birdie putt. On hole two I rip what should be a simple hyzer drive, dead laser beam straight towards the wrong pin position. Normally, Stubb’s isn’t a course that will forgive such simple mistakes and today is no exception.
Sometime during the middle of the front nine I have an amazing, if not somewhat obvious, revelation. A good practice round isn’t about a good score it’s about getting in some good practice.
I’ve been short changing my practice rounds for years by focusing on the score. I layup when I should run. I go to old standby shots when I should experiment with new ones.
By the end of the round I knew who it was in my dream that needed to “shut up.” It was me. I need to quiet the monkey chatter in my brain that asks me to always track/analyze my performance. The voice inside that insists on rating every shot I throw as if I am personally judged by each shot’s quality.
I am not my shots. I am not my round. When I practice the only thing that matters is that I learn.I return home content and ready to watch football for the rest of my Sunday. Gouda kitty shows me her tummy. The fair and lovely Amanda spoils me with snuggling and food. I am truly lucky and life is good.