On par in golf and in life

IMG_1534As I walked to the twelfth tee at the Tournament Club of Iowa, all I wanted to do was to finish my high school career with a par. The hole played as the most difficult on the course according to the scorecard, but taking more than the four shots required to par the hole just did not seem like an option. Sure a four on the scorecard looks nice, but this was more about my farewell to something I had devoted so much time to over the past six years.

I practiced religiously all those years for a team state championship, which now I understood would never become a reality. The dream was dying, but I knew I still had one par left in me. I stepped to the tee following my three playing partners. My drive soared along the right side of the fairway. One shot down, three to go.

I threw my bag over my shoulders, and began my walk toward the fairway. I thought back to one of the first rounds of golf I ever played. My dad took me to Red Hawk Golf Course, where I made a five on the par three finishing hole and strutted in to the pro shop afterwards to tell one of the employees about what was a huge accomplishment to me at the time.

I cracked a smile, and thought about how much my definition of an accomplishment had changed over the years.

I approached my golf ball, sitting about 190 yards from the hole with a hazard in front of the green and out of bounds to the right and left. One minor slip-up, and a four would have become out of the question. I pulled my two hybrid club out of the bag, took two practice swings, took a deep breath and hit the shot. The ball landed on the front left portion of the green with the pin sitting in the back right. Sixty feet from the hole, I needed two putts from there for a par. Two shots down, two to go.

I thought about all the times on a golf course I had put my head down. All the times I hated the game. All the times I told myself I was done and that I would never play again. All the times I looked at the goals I had set for myself and realized I never even came close. At this moment all the frustrations seemed like such a silly waste of time. I wondered why I had spent so much time worrying about my struggles, when thinking about my triumphs brought me so much joy.

I lined up to putt. I took my practice strokes, stepped up and hit it. From the moment it hit the putter it felt like a good stroke, and as my ball got closer to the hole, it looked as if I may end up exceeding my goal. It curved down towards the hole and came to rest about four inches away, just short of a birdie. I walked toward the hole and my four was all but guaranteed. Three shots down, one to go.

The walk across the length of the green probably took not more than ten seconds, but for me it seemed like an eternity. That four inch putt would be the final shot of my high school golf career. As I walked across the green, I realized I had spent more time trying to resent something I loved than putting in the effort to actually love it. I had spent more time thinking about the bad times than reflecting on the good ones, but on this final hole the good times were all that came to mind.

It took me until that final hole to realize how much I had enjoyed my experience over the years, and how silly I was to take it for granted at times. I tapped my putt in for par, and just like that my high school golf career came to a close.

I have played thousands of holes of golf in my life, but none have been more memorable than that final hole of my high school career. I made my four, and for once on the golf course, everything had gone as planned. I realized that it is moments like those that keep me going in golf and in life. I learned that I should not resent my failures, because without failure, how would I know the great feeling that comes with triumph?

As normal, I reviewed my scores for all eighteen holes with the other players in my group, then signed off on my scorecard, however, out of all those numbers there was really only one I paid close attention to.

That little number four penciled into the square underneath the number twelve.

Contributed by Keil Huber
Edited by Jennifer A. Simmering