Each week this summer, Citizen editor Neil Godbout will share his experience learning to golf at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club. Want to get in a free round with Neil? Just drop him a line at email@example.com
For now, I’ve stopped keeping score. It was getting in the way of my golf goals.
Sure, I had ambitions to shoot under 100 by the end of this season (and still do because I’m a competitive person, especially when the competition is me) but my ambition to play well takes a back seat to my two goals.
After this season and all of the play, practice and lessons with Prince George Golf and Curling Club pro Blair Scott, my main goals are to learn, to play better and to have fun.
Keeping score was distracting me from working on those goals. The results of productive lessons with Blair, followed by decent practices, weren’t being seen during play. Heading out onto the course, I was thinking about the score, instead of my goals. As a result, neither my play or my scores improved and I started wondering whether golf was my game. There’s nothing wrong with golf, of course. As usual, my attitude and approach were the problem.
I had a lovely time golfing last week with Colleen Sparrow, the Citizen’s former publisher and one of my favourite people in the entire world, and Todd Corrigall, the CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce. We played best ball to keep it light but I was frustrated for much of the round. My warmup on the driving range had gone so well but now out on the course, I couldn’t do much of anything right.
Because I’m prone to excessive analysis, I realized the next morning I had made myself a victim of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This is a famous and well-researched quirk of human psychology where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. While beginners accept their lack of expertise, novices think they know everything about the subject at hand. After a handful of lessons and a few rounds, I thought for sure I’d be shooting in the 90s and keeping up with golfers with decades of experience. Boy, was I wrong. Golf, like any other sport, any other discipline, like life itself, is an endless path of learning and adapting.
So the next afternoon, I headed out again with Owen Thomson, a longtime Citizen colleague and all-around good guy. He’s also easily the best golfer I’ve played with this season (he just missed a 20-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 second hole). As anyone who has ever played team sports knows, playing with better players makes you play better.
He offered reminders of what Blair has already taught me – stay relaxed, fluid swing and follow through, turning the chest back and then forward, back foot up and belt facing front in the follow through, don’t hit the ball, just let it get in the way of a good swing. He insisted I tee the ball up higher when using the driver and also when using an iron to get over the pond at number 14. For the first time in weeks, I cleared the water on the first try and more of my drives got some altitude.
I need to keep practising the basics and keep having fun. Then the scores will come.