Golf.

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When I started playing golf, I didn’t get it. It was boring and I couldn’t comprehend the allure of the game. I was 6 or 7 and I was down in Florida visiting my grandpa, or as I called him, “Pop Pop”. He was a great golfer and lived on a golf course. What do you do with your child and grandchild in Florida other than take them to Disney world? I guess taking me to the driving range was the answer they came up with. For most of my life I would only play or practice when I was visiting. Sometimes I would go to the range with my dad; I’d finish my 50 balls in less than 3 minutes without caring where the ball was actually hit. I would then spend the rest of the time sitting on a bench behind the range just watching; watching these men swing and swing and swing, and curse and curse and curse, showing every bit of emotion with every horrible shot. I didn’t get it. I just couldn’t understand it. Why is this fun?

I played every sport you could think of unless you are thinking of things like cricket or curling. My number one sport was baseball. Golf was never a thought in my mind. We had a rule in my house and that was no golf during baseball season. This rule was not hard to follow, it was my rule. The swings for both sports may seem similar, however something about swinging a golf club during baseball season turned my baseball swing into a mess. I played baseball up until my freshman year of college and stopped because I thought I had to.

You know when people tell you, “You won’t understand till you’re older?” Do you know that one? It was true for me in golf. I eventually got it, and maybe the only reason I got it is because I needed it. I was desperately trying to fill the void that not playing baseball had left. Golf was just right there at my fingertips. Most of you know my back-story – If you check back on my recent posts you can reread it, but I will hit the bullet points necessary for this post:

  • I turned pro a couple months after my Dad got his diagnoses.
  • I turned pro far before I was ready but something made me do it.
  • I played on and off professionally for 3 years.
  • A couple months before my Dad died I made the decision to finally go all in when he was gone. No work, just golf tournaments.

In August I finally started my golf journey. The first tournament was rough, terrible in fact. I missed the cut. The second tournament was better, but not good by any means and resulted in another missed cut. This was pretty much the trend throughout the 3 months to follow. At times I wouldn’t want to play for days. My confidence was shot and the money was running out, but every time I stepped on that first tee of a tournament I knew that it was where I was supposed to be. I finally got a new coach and started re-working my swing. It was great, the changes we had made were paying off and I was set to get back out there and compete.

Here is the deal with golf — you need backing to play. You need sponsors or investors because it is expensive and essentially you are a gamble. You are betting on yourself to be better than everyone else. It’s a risky investment. I had a team of people that were on this hunt for me. I had 2 contracts before. One was an apparel deal with Oakley and the other was a club deal with Adams Golf.  Neither one of those contracts was renewed after August. Nevertheless, I was feeling good. My swing was feeling good and my game was getting back to its original form. I was approached about playing in Asia on the One Asia Tour. I didn’t hesitate, I just wanted to play golf and if I got to see parts of the world while doing so, then I was taking it. I had sponsors in-line for this. It was all happening. All I had to do was head out to California and play in a Q-School (Qualifying event) and I was golden.

I flew out to LA, leaving behind a cold and snowy DC. I arrived 5 days prior to the tournament to get acclimated to the West Coast. Then it was tournament time and I was ready. I showed up to my tee time on the first day and my caddie was nowhere to be found. I carried my bag up and down this mountain-of-a golf course for the first nine holes.  Luckily I had carried my bag a ton of times before and I did a good job of staying focused and not letting it get to me. My caddie eventually showed up on the tenth hole and turned out to be one hell of a guy.

After 4 days and 4 rounds, I didn’t perform to my ability. I was by myself across the country for 9 days and the only time I truly felt alone was standing on the 18th green on the final day, knowing that I may have screwed this up. I stood there and wondered, “What was wrong with me?”

To answer your question – my putter went cold. I hit the ball well, but I couldn’t read a green or judge a speed to save my life, and that’s exactly what I thought was on the line; my life. That might be a tad dramatic, but it kind of was. I had invested all that I had in this. I trained and trained for the race and a quarter mile into it I pulled up lame.

I returned home and waited for the people in the know to tell me when I was leaving for the One Asia tour. I got an email from my agent informing me that all sponsorships were now gone citing my poor performance. My feeling was unexplainable. I wasn’t sad; I felt that this is what I deserved for performing so poorly. Here I was sitting in my room, in a house that I could no longer afford, reading this email thinking that I was a complete failure. When it’s cold and snowing it only makes your sense of nothing-less more apparent. Sitting in a house all day, better yet sitting in one you can’t afford to live in anymore, makes you feel like you have nothing left.

After not picking up a club for a couple weeks and looking for answers on what to do, I went out to meet some of my friends at a bar.  Amongst all the joking, I was asked when I was leaving.  I told them what happened at Q-School. One of my friends said something to me that I will never forget. He said “just promise me you won’t give up. You’re the only one of us with a dream. Look at us, we don’t have dreams. Just don’t give up.” In between the drunkenness and the joking, here was the kid who made milk come out of my nose in the 1st grade asking me not to quit. Having him say that meant more to me than I think he will ever know. I’m flat broke, doing odd jobs for money, planning on moving home and then he hits me with this. It was truly just one of those “ah ha!” moments.

I’m honest about my failures. When you’ve been to summer school twice you kind of have to fess up to the fact that you’ve screwed up. But the difference here was that I thought my failure was making the choice to travel down this uncertain path. No, that wasn’t the failure. That actually wasn’t a failure at all. Nothing about this has been a failure; it’s been exactly what it’s needed to be – a road with bumps, curves and street signs throwing me off my GPS’ preferred route.

It’s been missing 3 footers for par.

It’s been making 50 footers for eagle.

It’s been to the edge of broke, traveling on my last dime trying to figure out where the next check will come from.

It’s knowing that there are a ton of guys who would trade with you, even if just for a day.

It’s been that feeling of sickness on that first tee when you step up to hit your drive.

It’s been being reassured that behind all the beer and mixed drinks that your friends actually do care.

It’s been driving 5 hours home after every missed cut wanting to break down because you’ve put so much in.

It’s been flying across the country only to get recognized on the first tee. “Hey you’re from DC, right?”

It’s remembering something that you’ve known all along; that your mom will support you no matter how many cuts you miss and how many stupid things you say.

It’s been wishing he was here to tell you it’s “ok, relax” while giving you that big hug.

But most of all…

It’s been that one perfect swing. That one perfect shot that feels so good it reminds you the joy in the game you love to play. And that… makes you come back for more.

So I have this to say to all of you who have supported me throughout all of this.

I’m not going to give up. This is something that I will continue to chase as long as the chase can last.

Thank you for everything.

-Chris

I remember

I remember,

I remember you,

I remember us going to the beach when I was little,

I remember anytime I had a game, you were there,

I remember each time you told me to keep my head down and to keep it up,

I remember every Bob Marley song,

I remember all the jokes,

I remember trying to forget,

I remember everything important you said,

I remember everything unimportant you said,

I remember the fights,

I remember the good and bad,

I remember those three years blurred into one,

I remember you always saying “it was fine”,

I remember 1 year ago today,

I remember saying goodbye for the last time,

I remember.

Just kidding

I want to tell people what you said to me that night in your hospital room but, I figure you waited for everyone else to leave for a reason. That was one of the few times I wanted to cry through all of this and it was the only time I can remember wanting to break down. It was something we were both thinking and feeling but, neither of us wanted to say then, you said it. I couldn’t respond, I was stuck in what I was feeling because I had never heard you speak like that before. If I was the one in that hospital bed instead of you, I would’ve said the same thing.

I wish I knew how to respond to what you said, instead I sat, quiet, my eyes welling up, wanting to break the silence so I didn’t break down. I didn’t want you to know I was feeling the same way. I wanted you to think everything was ok in my mind but, I was stupid for that, you knew, you always knew. You were one of the few people who could read me no matter what my face was implying. We sat there alone but together for five minutes. It’s weird how five minutes can feel like five hours or five years. We were silent for most of those five minutes until you broke the silence. “Just kidding” you said. For once I didn’t laugh I just said “I know”.

I might tell people one day but for now I think it’s best if it stays between us. Something that I can call ours for now. I feel like I’ve had to share you with many people recently that I’m glad I can call this my own part of you. These were not the last words that you spoke to me but these were the words that struck me the most because I knew, I knew you weren’t kidding. I knew for once in our lives we weren’t trying to joke. For once it wasn’t about the laughter. It was about the truth.

I don’t want to keep writing these and frankly I hate that I can’t write anything but this. This is the only thing that isn’t forced when I sit down to work, I look around and my fingers go wild on the keyboard and, before I know it I have another sad group of words that even I don’t want to read. I’m not sad, I’m not happy, I’m just content, I’m really just here. This is not a choice of mine this is just how I am right now. This seems to be all I have at the moment. It will have to do.

I wonder what life would be like if none of this happened 3 years ago. Just kidding. I know you know that’s not true.

answers.

I remember what I felt 7 months ago when I watched you take that last breath. I remember being told it was ok to cry and ok to be sad. I didn’t cry. I didn’t want too. It wasn’t time for that emotion to come out. Why did you leave me? You leaving could’ve only caused me to make rash decisions about life, about time. I have questions, I want answers. You were always there to help me find the answers, you never gave them to me, you made me figure it out on my own. If I did it on my own all those times why is it so different now? I can go almost 5 minutes without thinking about you or something you said. One day 5 mins will be 10 minutes and 10 minutes, one hour but, will I ever not think about you? Will this bourdon that I didn’t accomplish anything while you were alive ever go away? Or is this what keeps pushing me to strive for more? I always want more. You taught me to always get better because there is someone else who is always going to be better. It’s the truth.

Did I ever tell you I was sorry?  I’m sorry for all of this.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t help.  I’m sorry I never accomplished anything?  But, can you answer this?  Did you leave because you knew that I was going too?  Did you think that me leaving meant I didn’t want you here anymore?  Did you think that I was giving up?  I wasn’t.  Did I give you that feeling?  If I did, thats another thing I’m sorry for.  You know I’m not big on apologizing.  You deserve these apologies.  You deserve more than these letters.  You deserve to not be gone.

I don’t know when this will end, or if it will ever end.  Will I get back to normal?  Is this normal now?  Will I eventually be able to go through one day, one hour, one minute, without getting that feeling.  That feeling that you’re right there but just when I go to turn around, you’re not there.  Were you there?  Or is this just my imagination?

I’m mad at you for leaving even though I know it’s not your fault.  You had no choice in the matter.

You left me.  I prepared myself for it.  I knew you were going to, but I didn’t want to believe you would.  I was ready for it.  Does that make me a bad person?  Does it make me a bad person that I’m mad that you left me here, left me here to answer all these questions that I don’t know the answers to?  Left me here to fix all the problems that I knew were problems but avoided fixing?  Was/am I the problem?  Is this my fault?  None of this is your fault.

I’m sick of answering these questions.  How are you?  How are you doing? blah blah blah.  I can’t blame people for asking but it is all repetitive and mundane.  I get asked to solve everyone else’s problems.  Everyone who is dealing with you leaving.  Every mess that was left behind.  You didn’t leave these messes behind, I know this, but everyone expected you to help clean them up.  Now it’s me.  You left me with the responsibility and fuck, you know I hate responsibility.  I was ready for it.  I won’t run away from it, but I want too.  I want to leave.  I wanted to leave right after you left.  I wanted to go far, far away.  Not for good but just for a little.  I needed to get away and get out so I wouldn’t have to deal with all the shit I’m dealing with now. But. I couldn’t leave mom. You told me to take care of her. None of this is your fault.

No one will ever know what I’m feeling inside because my outside appearance will never change.  This is truly a gift that I have.  Thanks.  You had this gift too.  I’m just going to assume I got it from you.  There have been days that I’ve just wanted to say “fuck this” and pick up and go.  Hell, there have been days where I have said that and ended up in the same place. At home, wondering how I got there and why I’m still there.

But for all this shit that has been left behind, I consider myself lucky.  I consider myself lucky that everyday I’m reminded what a great person you were, how funny you were, and how we were. The saying will never get old, “You are your father’s son”. You’re damn right I am.

Words…

I don’t know words.  I don’t know why, sometimes they flow as easy as water and, others, they get stuck.  Stuck in that damn dam in my head, struggling to get through.  I’ve been told I have a way with words.  I don’t know if thats true or not.  Maybe that was just something teachers liked to say.  I don’t use overly big ones.  Sometimes I do.  Words, sometimes I type, backspace, type, backspace, type, backspace, over and over again trying to spell you correctly instead of right clicking or control+clicking and just picking from the drop down menu.  I want to know how to spell.  Learn by doing, not by someone/thing doing it for you.  

I don’t know why, but, Definitely, I hate you.  I believe people started saying “def.” because you are a bitch of a word to spell.  I don’t know why auto-correct automatically changes you to “defiantly” causing me to look like a moron each and every time.  If you are ever talking to me via text or chat and I type “Def” it’s because I have given up on spelling “Definitely”.  It’s really not that hard of a word, but it gives me the most headache.  Oh yeah and before I forget.  This “I before E except after C” shit isn’t true.  Lies! All Lies!

In person I can speak.  I know shocking to some.  Sometimes I fail to makes words go from my head to my mouth.  Don’t lie you have this problem too.  Maybe this is because one of my friend’s moms asked if I had a speech impediment back in the day.  I don’t recall having one.  But, who knows.  Public speaking, you and I are alright.  I have no problem with you.  It usually helps once I get that first laugh but you are easy.  I don’t mind the big room or group of people.  I don’t care if I somewhat stumble over my words.  I stumble through life all the time and people see.  Just like when you stumble walking in front of people, a light jog is necessary.  If you stumble over words in front of people you just jog with the sentence. There’s no difference in my mind.

Word.  A word I often use in conversation.  Defined on urbandictionary:

1) well said 
2)said in a agreement 
3) can be used as a greeting, hey whats up

There were other definitions but this was the first one and one of the least offensive.  I use “Word” when I really have no other words I can think of to say.  “Word” sometimes says it all. Words can have so many meanings.  You can say so much and not say more then one word. All that is needed is a 4-letter word.  Whatever it may be.

At times when words escape, finding them is difficult.  Where do they go?  Why do the go there?  Can I come?  I don’t know how many times I think of something that I feel is great, but I’m driving or doing something where I can’t write it in my phone or on paper and I forget.  I get back to where I need to use it and its gone.  I can’t even remember what it was that I was thinking at the time.  These are by far my greatest and best thoughts that no one will ever know I had.  Some of the things are probably better off lost somewhere in my head rather than shared with people.  Lost along with the words is grammar.  Sometimes I have good grammar, other times…. not so much.  Every now and then I won’t correct it because no one is grading this.  Plus the grammar I have down is the way it came out first.  Be it right or wrong, its will stay this way.

I use words for comedy.  I like laughter.  Its generally a good sound.  Some laughs are deal breakers though, sorry.  Its true.  The invention of sarcasm was not wasted on me.  Much like certain words my sarcasm can get over used.  Seriously Serious About Everything Not Serious.  I use words for sadness.  It’s a feeling we have all had.  More relatable than happiness. 

Words are used for so many things.  Telling a joke.  Telling someone how you feel.  Voicing displeasure of a golf shot.  Wasting peoples time… I just used words to waste your time. 733 to be exact. 

“Oh god..”

*I wrote half of this after round 1 over a week ago.  Posting it now because hey, better late.. My mental state when I wrote this and my mental state now are different so read this as if you are reading it last week.*

 

“Oh god..” was a common phrased I used while playing in round 1 of the River Hills Classic in South Carolina.  “Dear God” was a common phrase I used in round 2.  This is my first tournament in a long time.  This was also my worst professional score/performance.  I really have no excuses for it.  I just did nothing well today.  I’m not to upset about it.  Shit happens.  On the brightside I only cursed 8 times today.

The course played tough.  The greens were hard and fast, scores were high.  Its in great shape.  Very hilly.  You don’t have to hit driver a lot.  I only hit driver 7 times.  3 iron or hybrid off the tee is all you need.  The approach shots are all mostly up hill and blind.

The front 9 on day 1, I played scared.  Worried about making mistakes, which in turn, makes you make mistakes.  I opened up on the back 9, birdied number 10 and pared 11 before getting on a train of bogeys.

My swing, felt fine at times.  But, most of the day I was fighting it.  I made a swing change before this tournament, again.  I say again because making swing changes before tournaments is something I’m renowned for.  I do it all the time.  Just in case you were wondering.. thats not the best idea.  Generally you want to go into a tournament confident that you will know where the ball will go.  I’m a natural right-to-left player.  Today I was a right-to-right player.  Which changes how you can attack the course.  I practiced for over an hour after round 1.  I still wasn’t confident with it on day 2.

Day 2 I started on number 10 an uphill then downhill reachable par 5.  I hit a great drive and had 215 to the pin.  I hit a 5 iron which never left the flag stick in the air.  My playing partner says while the ball is in the air “Great shot!” then… “klunk” in the water a foot short.   This was the only lost ball of the tournament.  Like I said I couldn’t do anything right.  Some days it goes just like that.  Its not a big deal.  Well.  It is but I won’t fret.

As with anything, there is always the next.  The next one will be better.

Quitter.

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At the beginning of October 2012 I played in a tour qualifier, it was maybe only my 7th or 8th event of the year, that I can recall.  I played horrible.  My head wasn’t in it.  I really didn’t want to be out there.  I was out there because I felt I should be.  I had motivation but it wasn’t enough for some reason.  After the round was over I told my friend/caddie that I was done.  This was it.  I was done with golf.  I didn’t want to do it anymore.  Losing takes a toll on you.  This was the first time I had ever considered myself a quitter.  I considered it quitting because it got too hard.  It got too hard to go out there and not perform.  To go out there and put so much in and get nothing out.  This was my definition of quitting.

I told my parents that I was done with golf.  They asked me what I was going to do.  I told them that I was going to go back to school, which really is something I should’ve done a long time ago.  As always they just told me they wanted me to be happy.  I have the ability to really be happy or content in any situation.  Maybe its that I just choose not to deal with shit or maybe I just don’t know any better.  Either way.  It works.  I was making the decision to not just not play golf but also not work in it either.  Golf is a fun business but in reality you don’t make any money, you work long hours and you have only golf.

I stayed working at the golf course while I figured out my next move.  Everyday people would come in and ask me “have you played lately?”, my response, always the same, No I’m done.  People couldn’t grasp the idea that I was done.  That I was going to give this all up.  One member in particular would always ask me that question and I would reply with the same thing every time, he would always say back, “Come on man! You’re not done!”.  In my mind I was.  In my mind golf didn’t exist anymore.  I knew I was never going to play again…

For 6 months I didn’t touch a golf club.  I didn’t hit golf balls.  I didn’t go on the golf course.  In the winter I didn’t go to Florida for the first time in 3 years.  April rolled around, my dad had died a month earlier and we had our annual Member vs. Staff outing.  They talked me into playing.  So I picked up my clubs hit a few balls and went out and played the club champion, not thinking I’d care.  I lost.  I got beat.  I was furious.  I didn’t like to lose.  But what did I expect?  Golf is really not like riding a bike.  I hadn’t done anything in months, of course I was going to lose.  One thing that I think they wanted to happen, happened.  I got that fire again.  I wanted to play.  I enjoyed it.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m wrong form time to time?  Well, I am.  I started practicing again.  I started playing.  I got it back.  Sometimes we need time off of something know what it means.  People, sports, things, drinks, pills, drugs, whatever it may be.  I play golf still.  Obviously, my blog is mostly about my golf life, so you could kind of pick up on that.  I don’t like to lose and I don’t like to quit.  But.  I didn’t quit.  I took an extended break.  That was a close call though.