Fitness Corner: Lessons learned from my mysteriously disappearing golf club

The last time I played golf, my driver mysteriously disappeared out of my golf bag. I only realized it was gone when I went to grab it for my first shot on the first hole. To describe my reaction as shock, well, that is an understatement. This isn’t a club that leaves the bag except to hit, and would not be accidentally left anywhere. And the last time we saw it, it was safely in my bag. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with golf, the driver is a crucial and highly visible golf club. It’s the biggest club in golf, and gets the most attention, because it enables you to hit the ball with the greatest distance and power. It is a very important club.)

So, when I went to tee off and my driver was nowhere to be seen, I couldn’t hide how mentally thrown off I was. My golf companions had already hit. A group was waiting behind us. We had 18 holes ahead of me and I had to act. I had no choice but to grab my 3-wood.

Unfortunately, my 3-wood is my worst club. If I hit it perfectly, which isn’t often, it produces a nice solid shot. But it has never been a club I can count on, not a club I am comfortable with, and not a club with which I wanted to replace my driver. However, as the second longest club in my bag, it was my best option.

And the result was . . . a great shot, that went just about as far as I have been hitting my driver. I was astounded as was my husband. And throughout the entire round (still, totally discombobulated and off focus, brain unable to let go of trying to figure out where the heck my driver went) I continued to hit that 3-wood long and pretty much straight, certainly no worse than I had been hitting my driver. Sometimes, even better.

As my round progressed and I tried to process what was going on, several realizations dawned on me.

First, my current driver had not been maximizing my full potential for distance and power. Yet I, who needs all the help I can get in my golf game (don’t we all) has had no interest in years in making any changes. Despite hints from my husband here and there, who only wants me to play the best golf possible, I refused to see how a new driver could possibly help me. Instead, I have been shutting down any opportunity to improving my golf game.

Second, I had formed some very strong opinions around my 3-wood (for example, worst club in my bag!) But when I had no choice but to try it in alternative circumstances, it delivered big. Any potential in my 3-wood went unrecognized and untapped, again for years, because of my own rigid judgement on the club and myself.

Finally, as we progressed through the round without my mysteriously disappearing driver (but discussing it frequently), I said repeatedly, “Maybe I can just hit my 3-wood off the tee for a while, I don’t need a new driver right now.” My husband, however, countered with, “We need to get you a new driver because you can probably gain a lot more distance.” And only later did I finally understood that even after my profound realizations around these two clubs, I was still avoiding the possibility of enhancing my game by gifting myself with a new driver.

I wonder, what would it be like to experience the satisfaction of even longer drives? What would it be like to swing the newest driver on the market, engineered to the latest specifications for women golfers? I’m definitely not the golfer who thinks I need to upgrade my club(s) repeatedly, in the hope that it will change my game. But perhaps I should become more like that golfer. Because I have not been operating in ways that give myself every opportunity to maximize my golf potential.

What if I approached my golf game looking for every opportunity to improve, grow and succeed, instead of saying to myself and everyone else for the last 15 years, “If I ever decided to take my game seriously, I could be so much better?” What if I approached my life more along those lines? I know I am not the only person who doesn’t prioritize my own success or my own accomplishments (or even the possibility of greater accomplishment). I know I am not the only person who thinks I don’t need to change anything because I am doing “just fine.” But what if I could do more than “just fine?” What would that mean for myself? How can I celebrate and support myself in a way that maximizes all opportunities to succeed?

This is not something I am good at, but I’m going to try, starting right now. My husband is pushing me to go shopping for a new driver, like, tonight! My brain keeps insisting it’s okay to use my 3-wood for a while because I hit it “just fine.” My heart is saying that it’s time to level up because why wouldn’t I do everything I can to support my best self, in golf and in life.

And my gut feeling, which has never led me astray, is saying that it’s about time. Because it is.

— By Pritam Potts

Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength coach. After 16+ years of training athletes and clients of all ages as co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. She writes about health & fitness, grief & loss, love & life at www.advancedathlete.com.

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