Last week we went on a long-planned mini-vacation to northern California. Because our drive to Carmel was a long one (350 miles), we had to borrow a gas-powered car to make the drive (another unintended consequence of purchasing an all-electric car, is that my car’s range is only 200 miles before it requires a 12-hour charge).
The trip didn’t start as a “vacation” … my partner Jack had three speaking gigs (two virtual and one live) in the Monterey area, and we decided to add a few days to the trip and play several rounds of golf. So we packed up our golf clubs and road trip snacks (Kumquats being my go to) and hit the road!
About four years ago I purchased a set of golf clubs and started taking lessons. I blogged about “The Zen of Golf” and shared some of the lessons I learned. One of the silver linings of COVID in 2020 was that playing golf outdoors was one of the few things that did not stop during the various “lockdowns,” so about six months ago, I decided to make the time to get better at golf. Jack and I golf once a week, plus I have taken a few more lessons from our local golf pro.
So now I had the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone (which includes playing only on my home course each week) to play golf at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in Carmel, CA. To say I was a bit nervous/excited/apprehensive would be an understatement.
Pebble Beach is one of several courses in the area that is rated quite difficult and, of course, is where the legendary AT&T Pro-am Golf Tournament takes place every year. The grounds are stunningly beautiful with many holes overlooking the gorgeous California coast.
We watched the weather forecast before we left for our road trip. We had planned to play four rounds of golf while we were in Carmel, so it was concerning that rain was in the forecast. I kept a positive attitude the entire time, hoping my positive “weather karma” would help chase away those clouds and showers.
Unfortunately, my weather karma did not work.
When we got in the car on Thursday at noon to drive to Pebble Beach, it was drizzling intermittently. “Maybe it will stop” was what I kept thinking. No such luck. The drizzle continued. And there was no rescheduling our round of golf to another (rain free) day … we were told that it would be impossible to find another tee time on such short notice.
So, I sucked it up and donned four layers of clothing (the temperature was hovering around 50 degrees all day) and a golf hat.
As I look back on that four-and-a-half-hour round of golf, there were many positives:
1. We got to play as a twosome, which is much faster than a foursome.
2. Because of the almost torrential rain, everyone in front of us was playing fast, so there wasn’t a lot of waiting between holes.
3. I actually shot par (a three) on Hole #7! Here are a couple of photos, so you can see how small the target green was … and if I had overshot or undershot, I would have been in big trouble! I feel like I have bragging rights for that par 3!
And I learned a few lessons during that round, too:
1. Even though I was soaked to the bone, I was forced to not quit early. Unlike most courses, once you start on Hole #1 at Pebble Beach you do not end up near the clubhouse until you finish Hole #18. In my head, I was thinking we might stop after Hole #9 … but we were so far away from the clubhouse that we had to continue. Has that ever happened to you? You want to quit after starting something, but you can’t, as you are far away from your home base. It reminds me of the first time I soloed as a pilot in a Cessna 152 … once I was in the air by myself, I had to stick with it and concentrate, as I could not quit (even though I was super nervous), until I landed the plane.
2. I got better at using the clubs I hate. Like the sand wedge. I used to dread hitting a golf ball and having it land in a sand trap (aka “bunker”). But, I got significantly better that day getting out of a bunker and onto the green because I had lots of practice. Have you noticed that happens to you, too? Maybe you’re not great at a certain skill, but as they say, “practice makes progress.” We all get better with practice.
3. Due to the constant drizzle, my hands and clubs got wet. Several times while I was swinging the club, it slipped in my hand, sending the ball in a direction I did not want. What I learned was the importance of having a dry towel handy, a spare glove or two in my bag, and planning my club needs in advance of getting out of the cart. Do you ever show up to a meeting and realize you forgot something important that you need in your presentation? How do you prevent that? You visualize the situation in advance and role play, which allows you to anticipate your needs and how the meeting will go. Of course, I brought lots of extra golf balls with me, but I never thought about packing an extra golf glove in my bag.
Golfing in the rain definitely taught me contingency planning, the importance of regular practice and the benefit of self-determination. It also taught me to appreciate the beauty of a situation, even if it is not exactly what I had expected. The lush green fairways and the pounding waves of the ocean were dramatic and breathtaking. If I had been only worrying about my score, I would have missed all of that.
So next time you are in a situation that is not exactly what you expected or planned for, take a deep breath and find something to appreciate! Your attitude can make all the difference in the world. And, who knows, you may find a silver lining.