Thursday, August 2, 2012

What is Your Inspiration?

I've been thinking a lot about inspiration lately, and not the oh, that's cool kind, but the wow, that's freaking awesome kind.  You know, that kind that makes you want do better at something, like to be a better father, friend, spouse, or whateves.

I know no one is really following this blog, but if you happen across this post sometime and have the time to respond, I'd like to hear your answer to this question.  What is your inspiration?

Phase 1 and Feeling Slightly Guilty

Well, phase one is almost complete.  It looks like I'll start an overnight stocking position sometime next week.  You know, it's weird because I've never been so unhappy to get a job. The job will take away practice time, and it will make my full-time job as an Instructor more difficult.  A lack of sleep will probably have a negative impact overall.

But the really bad thing is that I'm feeling sorry for myself, and I know I shouldn't.  See, I'm not typically narcissistic, at least not in the getting myself transfixed in the pool of water kind of way, but it occurs to me that a personal blog about one's journey is inherently narcissistic, especially if that blog is about one's own dreams.  I'm doing this to fulfill a dream, yet there are so many others out there in the word who can't even dare to dream.  That's why I shouldn't feel sorry for myself.  I will have two jobs, regardless of the reasons, and there are so many who would love to just have one.

All I can do is vow to give back when I can.  If I make it, I will take someone else with me.  I will give back.

You know, as I was feeling sorry for myself, I came across two wonderful, inspirational people.  Feherty's episode with John Daly showed me strength, wisdom, and courage, and I realized that John Daly is truly a remarkable person.  He is a survivor whose strength and resiliency is astounding, and these are characteristics to emulate.  And then there is @StephLeavins, who is truly an Angel.  Both of these people have inspired me, and because of them, I refuse to feel sorry for myself.  Instead, I'm now more determined to make it so that, at the very least, I can help people to follow their own dreams.  And, at best, I can help make those dreams come true.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Catch 22

When I found out that the road to the PGA requires a handicap index, I realized I was in for an even tougher battle than I had originally thought.  From what I understand, one has to be a member of a country club to get a handicap index.  To do this, I have to take on another job.

This is problematic because whatever job I get is going to severely cut into my practice time.  I mean, I need the additional income, and getting a second job was already on the table.  However, I didn't really think of how much that would limit my ability to practice.  

To be able to progress, I need to play golf.  To play golf, I need money.  To get additional money, I sacrifice time.  This hardly seems doable.

I'd give up on this dream if I didn't think I had a chance of becoming adequate enough to try out for the tour in two years.  Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm good enough now, nor do I know if I'll be good enough then to qualify.  However, I know that with practice, I've got a good shot at not sucking.  And maybe I'll not suck so badly that I won't be embarrassed to try to qualify.  

There's this soccer practice field up the road from where I live.  It's open most of the time, so I've been going out there with my nine iron and practicing my swing.  I now know how and why I've been slicing the ball all this time, and I've been focusing on staying on plane during my take away so that I'm not casting over my shoulder on the downswing, and I've been focusing on squaring the club face at impact. Right now what I'm looking for is hitting the ball consistently, solidly, and straight.  Hopefully, club head speed will come with more practice.  

It's amazing how much better I understand the golf swing now compared to when I played years ago.  I don't cast now, (this was caused by a poor take away and a dipping of the left shoulder instead of rotating it), and I don't slice (unless I am not focused and try to hit the ball too hard, which completely jacks up everything).  I found out, through much reading, many videos, and trial and error, that since I was casting with my right shoulder, I was moving the club outside to in, and this was causing that fatal banana slice.  

However, I was doing even more than this casting.  I was trying to rotate my shoulders too much on the downswing.  Please note:  This is not a tips section, nor will I ever offer golf tips.  I am not a trained professional, and I can only report what I've been doing and what I've done to correct the problem.  I don't propose that anything I've done will be of use to you.  If you can afford it, seek advice from a PGA professional, and not some wild golf tip du jour.   

Anyway, I learned that I need to shift my weight from the right leg to the left leg, laterally.  This lateral shifting causes my hips to rotate back to the left, and, if I'm doing it right, my shoulders, arms, hands, and finally, the club head, will follow.  Of course there is that wrist thing, and I've worked very hard at maintaining that wrist angle until the release (and still working on it of course), which helps to square the club face at impact.  

So I've progressed light years beyond what I used to do, and in a very short amount of time.  However, I fear that by taking a second job (which I'll have to do one way or the other), I'll lose what I've gained because I won't be able to continue to practice as often as I do.  Heck, even if the second job provided enough income above what I need to pay bills, etc., to get a club membership, I wouldn't be able to take advantage of that membership to practice and play, so I am kind of stuck here.  Conundrum, conundrum.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Some History

First, let me briefly explain how this journey began.  It started about 14 or 15 years ago when I saw an amateur tournament on television. More specifically, I saw how much money these guys were making, and it looked easy, so I took up golf. 

It wasn’t easy, and I played horribly for five years before I finally gave it up.  I could only do two things well.  One, I had the prettiest banana slice you’ve ever seen.  Two, I could hit that slice consistently. That was it.   Well, my putting wasn’t bad, but that hardly mattered when I couldn’t get on the green in anything close to regulation.  So, I sold my clubs and quit.  And, I mean, I thoroughly quit.  I didn’t even think about golf again.  Instead, I focused on finishing college, raising children, going on to grad school, and you know, working.

Last month, I decided that I wanted to be a professional golfer.  Call it my mid-life crisis, or, since I don’t consider myself old, call it my mid, mid-life crisis.  Call it stupid.  Call it insane.  Call it unrealistic.  Whateves, I don’t care.  All I know is that with age comes wisdom (or brevity), and I know I’m not the same person now as I was then.  I approach things differently.  Life teaches you that.  Life teaches lessons, and I’ve learned many. 

Take fiction for instance.  Any good drama or suspense novel has, at its core, a sense of urgency.  There’s a ticking bomb the hero must diffuse, there’s a plane to catch on time because, if John doesn’t catch it, he’ll lose the love of his life.  Urgency is at the core, so, understanding this, I’ve set my own ticking bomb.  I’ve got two years to join the tour.  Two years.  That’s it.

I’ve got some work to do because, again, I suck.  And, up until three weeks ago, I didn’t even have any clubs.  That was a problem because, as I’ve already stated (and unabashedly so), I’m poor.  I’m a full-time teacher, but my wife only works part-time (health reasons prevent her from working full-time), and we pull in less than 40 a year.  I am proud of what I do, and I do it well.  However, we like to eat (as we speak, my daughter is nuking left over taco stuff), so we have to budget tightly, as do most of us, of course.  That’s just the way it is, so I’m sure you can understand that there is little room for frivolity.

Dreams are frivolous things though, and I had to have clubs, so I went to a thrift store.  I got lucky!  I found some Wilson Power Source irons for a buck a piece.  I picked up a 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, and some kind of Wilson dual wedge.  They’re in rough shape, but they were cheap, so I got them. 

Next, I needed something to drive the ball off the tee with, so a week later I found a 3 hybrid, and later, I found a putter in the trash.  There I was just driving along and there were some clubs sitting on the curb for the trash.  I picked up a seven iron (it’s so old and heavy, I’m actually using it for weight training), and an ancient putter.  So, I have these clubs and some plastic practice balls, and that’s where I’m at right now, steadily knocking the crap out of plastic balls in my backyard every chance I get.  Phase one of the PGA plan is in motion.