Never Underestimate the Heart of a Champion
Monday was an epic day for golf, as two events took place that will forever change the course of golf history. In one event, a golfer was crowned champion after years of dedication and hard work, earning the praise and adulation he so richly deserves, and forever altering the way children and their parents think about the sport. In the other event, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open. (Yawn.)
In case you haven't yet seen highlights on ESPN, yours truly netted the lowest score in the Monona Municipal Golf Course men's Monday night league this week. This is about as likely as John Daly being named "Sexiest Man Alive." Sure, Tiger won one of the most exciting major tournaments in history, and sure, he gets a big trophy and millions of dollars for his efforts. But I feel I have won the coveted "trophy within."
My golfing history is a long and sordid one. I actually played a lot as a kid, even making my high school golf team. (Thus, I can say I played "three sports" and sound as legitimate as all the guys who played football, baseball, and basketball. I played golf, baseball and basketball.) At some point after high school though, I put down the clubs for a decade. I just couldn't handle the stress of the game and suffered a David Duval-style meltdown. Those who have played with me will tell you that my language on the course has probably earned me a full years' worth of rosaries when I finally get around to going to confession. At one point, I threw three of my clubs up in a tree at the Mee-Kwon golf course north of Milwaukee. But that's another story for another time.
What's important now is that my game is starting to come around. Nobody is happier to see this than the golf courses themselves. In my golfing career, I have probably single-handedly undone most of Gaylord Nelson's environmental achievements with the damage my golf game has wrought on Wisconsin's sensitive habitats.
Of course, nobody's going to confuse me for Tiger Woods just yet. But in a strange way, I think watching as much of the U.S. Open as I did actually helped me. I realized that even the best players in the world don't hit perfect shots every time, and that helped me relax. Of course, my ample handicap helped, too - but every stroke of that was earned, given how poorly I had played in the past couple of weeks.
There's so many people to thank for this achievement, but I would be remiss if I didn't first credit myself for all my hard work, dedication, and willingness to starve my children so I have more money for greens fees. Imagine how hard it is on me when my starving little children come up to me, begging for bread crumbs. It just breaks my heart when I have to push them away and say "maybe next week."
And if I may, I'd like to offer some words of encouragement to the other golfers in my league - keep practicing, and maybe one day, you will get to touch the trophy. Until then, I plan on being insufferable. (I told my wife I beat a bunch of scratch golfers, and she said I should fit right in, since I scratch myself all the time.)