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Golf is More Than Just a Game - How Covid changed the way I play golf forever

Have you ever thought about, and I mean REALLY, thought about what you love about golf? Covid brought that into sharp focus for me over the last year.

There was a time when I looked down my nose at golf. Although my grandfather was wildly passionate about the game, he never introduced me to it. So, I occupied my time with every other sport available to me. Sport was a safe haven for me; it was where I was in my element and where I was happiest.

But as it does to all athletes, life happens. An old sports injury turned arthritic and made walking, much less any of my more strenuous activities, an act of bravery. Two weeks of depression followed as the realization that I would have to give up the running, cycling, squash, tennis and every other active pursuit I so desperately loved and to which I had dedicated a lot of my life.

It was a time of transition. I was who I was and the realization set in that I had to remain true to myself and my competitive instincts. I just had to find the right pursuit. As it happened, golf was it.

That decided, my competitive instincts took over and I set about honing my skills so I could resume competing, albeit in a completely new pursuit. And so it went. The years turned to decades and the trophies piled up as my handicap dropped. My friends and I competed at everything and golf was merely another avenue to express these instincts.

Then Covid happened and the world changed. 

No tournaments are allowed and most of my friends are afraid to leave their homes as the Delta variant ravages the densely packed cities and the numbers of infections reach new heights every day. I'm lucky that the town of Ternate has miraculously remained Covid-free to date and the Zamora Championship Golf Course has given me a new course to call home. But the competition that I so craved, so enjoyed was gone. I worried that without the buzz you feel when you win, my interest in the game would wane, but I forgot one thing.

This is golf.

I began playing for myself. Today, I'm unconcerned about whether we have a bet going in our foursome that I am hitting the shot before me. My focus now is playing the golf course, playing the shot and ultimately, playing the game. 

Counterintuitively, I've shot my best scores since adopting this mindset. I'm not just moving the ball about the course; I'm playing shots, enjoying myself. I see a draw off the tee to put me into position for a cut with the next shot. I'm playing the game. I'm having fun. I'm at peace.

I've continued to make refinements to my swing and now see where I want to take my game moving forward. All in my mid-sixties. Who woulda thunk it? But, that's golf. It's crazy that it took a world wide pandemic to get me to realize it.

Now, your journey in the game is most likely different from mine. You might be new in the game or in the midst of struggles and tempted to put your sticks down once and for all. I beg you to persevere. This is a game that gives you so much more back that it takes from you. It teaches you character, patience and honesty. It is active meditation; its benefits to both body and mind are not to be underestimated.

So, embrace the struggle. Get out there and practice. Get better at golf. Dig its secrets out of the dirt. Remember that any goals you have today are temporary. New goals will replace them as you succeed. Isn't that the essence of the game? Keep advancing the ball just as you keep advancing your goals as to what you are yet to achieve in the game. 

Remember, the game of golf is a journey. Every ball you hit, every hole you play, every round under your belt is another step in that journey. Stick with it, take lessons, travel to new golf courses as restrictions and your vaccination status allow. Immerse yourself in the game and enjoy every minute of it. 

It is the game of a lifetime.