Last weekend was my first attempt at going pro in golf. Meaning, I entered a tournament as an amateur playing in the pro division, and if I was to win money (by placing well), then I would get my ‘pro status.’
This has been a dream of mine since I was twelve and the reason I became an entrepreneur almost ten years ago. This dream is what motivates me to have a “Bring it On Attitude” when it comes to my personal growth, because transforming myself shows up as immediate improvements in my golf game. It’s a powerful mirror for where I’m at inside of myself, and this weekend the reflection shared with me some very powerful lessons.
It’s been so many years since I played the quality of course, conditions and competition that I did this weekend. It was awesome to be in that environment again. To put it lightly, I got my ass kicked by the course, but even more-so by myself.
However, I am able to see the experience as a huge success on my journey to becoming a Professional Golfer. The lessons I learned on the course this weekend won’t just change how I play, they are going to change how I show up in my relationships, my business and the moment.
Here’s the story of what happened…
During my practice round I was playing with a couple of guys I just met and had my good friend, Jesse Pettersen caddying for me. Jesse competes in the world long drive championships (he hits the ball over 450 yards). After a few holes Jesse stopped me and said, “Dude, stop giving your energy away to everyone. Just focus on yourself and your game. They don’t need your encouragement and energy.” He was referring to the ways I take myself away from my game by cheering other guys on and making unnecessary small talk.
This came as a huge “WHOA Moment” because I tend to be everyone’s cheerleader when I play and I like to see everyone do well. This is also what makes me such a great life coach and mentor. I understood what he meant though and for the rest of my game I did my best to hold my energy inside of myself instead of letting it leak all over the place … but it was really challenging for me.
The next day, which was the first day of the tournament I felt pretty solid in myself. I spent the evening before integrating the lesson Jesse shared with me and I could clearly see this lifelong pattern of wanting everyone to be happy and me giving my energy to them when they’re not. It was a painful awakening. I realized this pattern has been one of my biggest detriments to myself and it no longer serves me to keep it. Especially in tournaments where I need all my energy, power and focus.
My first four holes of the tournament started out pretty great. I felt strong in my body and thoughts, as well as optimistic for a low round. However on the fifth hole, after I hit a great drive down the centre, which set me up for a good birdie chance, one of my playing partners lost two balls off the tee. This obviously made him super angry. As I walked down the fairway I started to feel bad for him. In that moment of feeling bad for him I unconsciously gave him my energy to help him feel better. I wanted to see him succeed and do well so I started encouraging him and sending him good vibes. That was the start of the downward spiral in my game and the upward spiral in his.
From that moment forward I lost myself. It was a struggle the rest of the round and I shot a whopping 88. I lost my connection and confidence and what’s funny is, he ended up making a bunch of birdies and getting his score back to a decent place.
Be StillUnfortunately I didn’t realize what I’d done until meditating in the sauna after my game reflecting on WTF happened out there. When I realized the moment I gave my power away on the fifth hole and all the moments during my round thereafter, I also saw my lifelong pattern of doing this with family, friends, fears and more. It felt painfully liberating to see it and feel the different struggles this pattern has has caused me. What a relief!
Day two of the tournament again started out great. Right up to hole 9 I felt like it could be a great round. Anytime I caught myself giving my energy away to people, I immediately breathed it back into the bottom of my belly and kept it there.
However, little by little this uneasy feeling was creeping into me and I couldn’t pinpoint it. As holes went on, the grip of fear came over me. One of the beautiful things about golf is that our fears show up in our results. We create what we fear or focus on. Meaning, if I fear hitting it in the bunker, that’s where it’ll go. If I fear hitting it in out of bounds, that’s where it will go. The rest of the round, which turned out to be quite a bit better than the first day I battled the demons of fear within me. It was not easy whatsoever. My final score that day was an 82 with three big blow-up holes. I was very fortunate to have a hot short game that day because I missed 15 out of 18 greens in regulation (which is a lot).
I don’t know if many will understand this, but golf is my medicine for changing myself, creating my reality and becoming a more powerful human being. Some people drink ayahuasca, others do Kirtan and others go to himalayan temples. This is my medicine. This is the place where I am having my most profound insights, healing and realizations. It is where my anger, frustrations and fear come to the surface to be dealt with. I am so grateful for this game and everything it has taught me to this point and the many lessons to come on my journey to going pro.
Here are my biggest lessons from the tournament this weekend and how they relate to life…
1) Drop all expectations. I went into the tournament with high expectations to be a pro by the end of the weekend and every time I made a bogie or higher, that expectation caused me to deflate and lose site of the moment and shot at hand. The new plan is to drop the expectations and just show up to the moment or shot being the best I can be. What more can we ask of ourselves?
2) Numbers are just Numbers. My joy comes from making shots, not from shooting numbers. The numbers are for my ego’s satisfaction and my attachment to those numbers sabotages my good vibes and focus. They actually have nothing to do with why I love the game so much. When I stayed focus on hitting my target rather than a number, I played well and without fear, but when I let the potential number creep into my consciousness I had massive blowups. Enjoy playing the game. It’s that simple.
3) Hold my Power Inside Myself. Nobody needs me to cheer for them, nobody needs me to wish them well, nobody needs me to do anything. But I need to cheer for myself and be here for me. I understand that holding my power and not giving it away doesn’t mean I can’t show kindness or compassion or even joke around. What it means is I don’t need to project my agenda onto others. Who they are and what they are experiencing is perfect. Same goes for my own experience. It’s all good.
4) My Longterm Vision Turns my Short term Failures into Massive Successes. I have a ten year vision for where I am going with the game of golf and how I am going to use this sport as a vehicle for my purpose in the world. Not having a longterm vision could have turned this weekend’s outcome into an epic failure, which may have deflated my momentum and stopped me from pursuing this dream and passion. However, I have a longterm, solid, grounded vision which allows me to clearly see this weekend as a huge success on the long road of where I know I am going. What’s your ten your vision?
5) Being Vulnerable is Powerful. Going into this tournament as an amateur playing with the pros and playing the way I did, I felt slightly embarrassed at first. I was afraid that people in the golfing community would lose respect for me and I was afraid that YOU would lose respect for me by sharing my vulnerable side here. But once I got over that, I get that anyone who has ever done anything awesome started at the bottom and they persevered through every set-back and challenge that came their way. So that is what I will do. I will integrate these lessons in my life and register for my next tournament with the willingness to do my best and the vulnerability to fail trying. This is my path and I am grateful for EVERY step along the way.