Have you ever been so in love with someone/something that you can’t imagine living without them/it? That happened to me in 2007 when I fell in love with golf.
Have you ever fallen out of love with someone/something and can’t imagine ever living with them/it again? That’s what happened to me in 2015 when I fell out of love with golf.
It’s not like I woke up one morning and just decided I no longer want to play the game. In fact, I didn’t even realize anything was happening to me for a long time. But my rounds went down to less than three a month, when they used to be three a week. I played more 9-hole rounds than 18 and I didn’t take any lessons. I didn’t record any rounds in the handicap system and I didn’t buy new clubs or even new golf clothes. Life got so busy I didn’t have time for golf… at least that is what I told myself.
My golfguy knew something was up, but didn’t push me. I knew it broke his heart because he still loved the game, so I went out with him and played half-heartedly and poorly. More than once I walked off the course at the 15th hole, tired of spending 5+ hours frustrated with slow play. For me, no play was better than slow play.
I thought maybe playing some courses that were on my bucket list would cure what ailed me. So we headed out to Nova Scotia and played two amazing golf courses at Cabot Links.
Financed by Mike Keiser, the creator of Bandon Dunes, the Links and and new Cliffs course lived up to their reputations, but again, my heart was not in my game.
Returning home, I thought a lot about my year and what caused this apathy towards a game I was so passionate about. Around the same time, I got a call from an old client I used to work for in the technology industry. They asked me if I wanted to come back and fill in for the director of marketing who had gone on maternity leave. I had left them a couple years earlier wanting to pursue a career in golf marketing.
When considering their offer, I sat back and thought about the last two years working for some amazing people who were desperately trying to make inroads in what was becoming more and more a very difficult industry. From tees to balls to Apps, bags, head covers and putting aids, I did my best to teach them how to fish in the ever-changing digital marketing, social media and PR ocean.
My memories of working with them are a mix of joy at seeing them embrace new technologies to help grow their business, to frustration about the state of the industry. I could feel their passion through the phone and the belief in themselves and their products. But as time went by, I found myself unable to share it with them.
Being so immersed in the game from playing, blogging, writing and working in it, I became more and more depressed at its inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to evolve in the face of technological and social disruption.
I ranted and raved at golf courses because too many of them refused to recognize that the future of the game (our youth) was being underserved, all in the interest of tradition. I watched one of my favorite golf clubs shutdown after 15 years, Golf Fore Gals, because interest in the game was declining year after year by women who did not feel welcome in the male-dominated sport.
So when my technology client reached out to me I took down my golf marketing shingle and returned to a world where I felt I could be a catalyst for change. I sent any new golf clients to colleagues who still had the faith. I gave up social media and blogging – two activities I enjoyed in the past because they introduced me to so many wonderful people. It was like I didn’t have anything more to say about golf to anyone, so why bother even striking up a conversation.
In November 2015, I was back working in high tech and still not playing much golf. I was preparing for our annual vacation on Maui and I have to admit I was more than a bit apprehensive. Every year we spent three weeks in paradise, playing 20+ rounds golf. How was I ever going to put on a happy face day after day this year, dreading the next tee time?
My golfguy was caught up in the excitement – enough for both of us. He had a very busy and stressful year and was looking forward to some downtime and some “round time” to rejuvenate himself for 2016. I knew I couldn’t let him down so I booked golf packages at our favorite resort on the island, Ka’anapali, praying the memories of some of my happiest moments on course would sustained me through the three weeks ahead.
The day after we landed we headed over to the resort to play our first round. I hadn’t lifted a club in almost 3 months. When I walked into the pro shop and saw June behind the counter putting together my packages for me I started to relax. Those feelings intensified as I made my way down to the starter desk, running into old friends who welcomed us back with open arms and a kiss.
It felt good to be remembered and be surrounded by people who still loved the game.
We ended up playing 15 rounds of golf during that trip and every round felt better than the one before, regardless of how I played. Half way through our holiday I was picking my ball out of the hole I just parred when a shooting pain coursed through my knee and I practically fell over. I couldn’t play again that day or the day after that or the day after that.
If it had been earlier that summer, I would have been thrilled that I had an excuse not to play. But times had changed and it seemed, so did I. I was actually sad, and it was the best feeling in the world!
It was then that I knew that my love for the game had returned. Four days later we were back on the course and I was thinking about doubling down and playing 36 holes. My knee couldn’t handle it, but my spirit could. Golfgal was back!
We’re back home now and and it’s New Year’s Day — a day of resolutions for some, but not for me. Today is the day that I will always be reminded of a very important lesson – “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” My passion for the game led me down a path of frustration, worry, anger, pain and finally depression. I let it consume me and it almost destroyed my love for it.
Today I have a very healthy appreciation and love for golf. Today I want to play it, but I don’t need to play it. I used to be a fanatic about golf; now I’m just a fan. Does that make sense?
Last fall I read a post from Chris at golfstinks.com, one of my favorite blogs. In it he talked about how every year he plays less and less golf, and although the season was almost over, he only played two 9-hole rounds with his kids that year. He said more than once that he still loved the game, but I wonder if it was more of a wish than a fact. Maybe he was inflicted with the same lethargy as I was.
Maybe there are others of you out there who are feeling the same sense of emptiness around the game. If so, I hope you find the trigger that helps you recapture the rapture you once had for golf. Never give up; never surrender. Golf is worth it; I know that now.
Ka’anapali Resort helped rekindle my love for the game, but I wouldn’t have been open to that opportunity if not for my golfguy.
Through his patience and gentle persuasion to give golf one more chance I am excited about 2016 and my next golf game.
Happy New Year everyone! And remember, golf is just a game, so “Hit ‘til you’re happy!”