The most humbling gamePublished 8:30am Thursday, June 2, 2011
Column: Second Thoughts
Athletes often learn from those who are better than them.
As a high school basketball player, I studied the play of college point guards on TV, and I learned when best to hit a crosscourt forehand by watching the seniors on my college tennis team.
We learn from athletes more skilled, but often older and more experienced, too. Who knew I’d learn so much from 15-year-olds this spring.
I began golfing seriously last summer. It began as a weekly trip to Green Lea Golf Course with my grandpa but quickly turned into an obsession. I was bad, but I desperately wanted to get better and spent every round trying to figure out how to hit the ball harder, further and straighter.
Therein laid the problem.
The harder I swung the further the ball sliced away from the fairway, and instead of settling with a bogey, I was frustrated each time I didn’t get a par. I was a strong, limber 23-year-old whose ego was far too big for the most humbling game on earth. Thanks to a bunch a teenagers, I’ve finally begun to respect it.
While covering my first high school boys’ golf season for the Tribune, I was astonished by the scores the local coaches would report.
While I was lucky to break triple digits, middle schoolers were cracking 85 and ninth-graders were scoring in the 70s.
How could that be? I couldn’t stand on a golf course at that age without blowing away let alone hit the ball far enough to par a long par 5. Then Albert Lea High School boys’ golf coach Riley Worth unknowingly gave me advice.
After I asked about an up-and-coming golfer’s chances of making varsity next season, he replied “Sure, he can lay up short, chip on and two-putt for bogey.”
“You mean he doesn’t for par every time?” I asked myself in my head.
“He plays bogey golf,” Worth said, as if answering my second question.
Bogey golf. I’d never thought of it that way. Instead of going for the green and inevitably having to dig my ball out of a pond or fight through a grove of trees, I could lay up short, chip on and two putt for bogey.
I began watching the area’s youngest stars and sure enough they made it look so easy. And more importantly, like I should be, they were satisfied with bogeys.
Golf is a whole lot easier when you’re not shooting for 72.
Good luck to all the local golfers who take aim for the state tournament today, including Maddy Reed and Brina Bergland of New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva and the Albert Lea and United South Central boys’ and girls’ golf teams.
Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears every Thursday in the Tribune. He can be heard at 11:10 a.m. Thursdays on KATE Radio.