The return to golf

I’m excited about getting back to golf.

Earlier this week I snatched up the opportunity to play 18 holes with a new friend. Wow, did it feel good! I should correct that, it felt good to my soul to play… but my body thought I was nuts.

Ditching out of work early I met Kevin over at Cottonwood. It’s a nice little muni on the south side of El Cajon. As I drove to the clubhouse I got a chance to see a number of holes and felt pretty good about the simple layouts. Not a shooting gallery and not a resort. Perfect for where my game is after 3 years off!

I had meant to go to the driving range on Sunday… but the Chargers game stole my daylight and it didn’t happen.

So there I was on the first hole feeling like a complete nimrod. Literally, the ball could go anywhere. I assured Kevin that anything could happen… this wasn’t going to be pretty.

Long ago I learned that golf is a mental game merely executed with muscles and bone. If you let pride or ambivelence get in the way you’ll always play terribly and have a miserable time. Instead, I try to play the game at least semi-intelligently. For me that meant embracing the obvious. Forget the driver. (The hardest club to play in the bag.) It also meant that I needed to find 2-3 clubs that I was comfortable with and just take my medicine with them.

That strategy worked for the most part. Predictably, when I tried to hit the 3 wood off the tee it sprayed violently. This forced me to hit crazy shots from awkward distances, around trees, over other tee boxes, etc. After a few holes I just resolved to teeing off with an iron and things improved from there.

Kevin was a lot of fun to play with. We have very different games. He has a low ball trajectory that is mostly straight. Thankfully he was infinitely patient and had a good attitude that my shots have a high trajectory and tended to spray all over. It was pretty funny because we’d go over to his ball in the fairway… then go try to find mine off in another fairway or the rough.

All-in-all it was a good day. With a couple mulligans I can somehow say that I broke 100. It wasn’t pretty unless you count hitting some crazy recovery shots and snaking in a few putts in the 15-20 foot range.


Excited about 2009

As far as years go 2008 has been a crazy one. The year started off with me gasping for air between rounds of Kidstown events and ended with a long time of rest and reflection after moving our family across the country and launching myself in a new direction. To quote Mike Yaconelli, “What a ride!

As 2008 takes it’s last spin on the disco ball known as Earth I wanted to record a few of the things I’m excited about for 2009.

#1 A simpler life continuing. It may sound weird that moving into an urban setting, Kristen taking a job, and both kids now in elementary school is actually simpler for us, but it is. Unlike before, we’re living within our means and building healthy boundaries between our work, play, jobs, and church life.

#2 To social media and beyond! I’m looking forward to the two-fold reality of getting deeper into the social media scene while at the same time venturing into new things.

#3 A hobby with my wife. For the first time in our relationship Kristen and I have purposed to do something together. Those who know us know how true it is that we often have had different worlds. Purposing to have the same hobby of Beyond The Zoo is going to bring us closer together.

#4 Golf. After a 3 year sabbatical from the game I will be resolving to get my game back in shape. I’d love to find a league or a volunteer opportunity to force me to play. How in the world could a lifelong golfer live in San Diego and not play?

#5 A vacation. No idea where we are headed or what we will do. But the family will definitely require a trip somewhere.

#6 A new place to live. Our lease is up in February and we’ve already told our landlady we intend to move. That said, we’re starting to look at places in the SDSU area, City Heights, Rolando, Kensington, or somewhere else near our church. We need more space.

#7 New stuff at Youth Ministry Exchange. Starting soon I will have a weekly column ay YMX. After kicking around a lot of ideas I’ve decided to stick with my passion. It’s going to be a weekly encouragement. Recognizing how little worship and preaching most of us hear as we lead the students… I hope it’s helpful to fill a tiny bit of the void. Plus, YMX’s main site has a brand new look we’re popping out soon.

#8 Some cool stuff at YS. Now that I’m not “the new guy” anymore it’s fun to be around some of our things from genesis through release. I’m excited about increasing my impact at work in 2009. More importantly, I am still shocked that God has allowed me the ability to impact the lives of youth workers through YS. Gosh, that is too cool.

#9 Unloading the Michigan homestead. Hard to believe that our house in Romeo has been vacant since the first week of August. We have a buyer and we’re waiting on the banks to do their thing. Originally, we had hoped that we’d be done with the house by the close of 2008. One way or the other, we will be done with the house in 2009.

#10 Kid Stuff. Megan and Paul have hit the age where childhood hits the afterburner and starts to speed along. Blogging is awesome in that I get to capture little snapshots, literally and figurately, of their lives for posterity sake. Both of their personalities are blossoming and I’m falling deeper and deeper in love with these kids God chose for us.


A true test

17th @ SawgrassFew holes in golf bring so much fear as the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. It’s all mental. At just 137 yards the par 3 should be a slam dunk. For most PGA Tour professionals they would hit this large green 95 out of 100 times. It should be an automatic par or birdie.

So why is this hole consistently one of the hardest in golf? Well, the green is completely surrounded by water. The island green rattles the nerves of the most tested names in golf. Woods, Michelson, Els,
and Garcia all quake as they approach the hole.

Leaders have won the tournament on this hole and leaders have lost the tournament on this hole. It is one of the few holes that TV commentators keep a running, career tally of how players have done on the hole. Phil Michelson is +15 on the hole in his professional career.

They key to the mental anxiety of this hole is an island about 60 yards to the right of the tee box. This acts as a visual trick. Players eyes lie to them about the hole based on that island tree. Players who ignore that and ignore the sucker pin on Sunday’s do well just hitting the ball 140 to the center of the green.
Players who come to the hole looking to make a statement or take a risk are often rewarded with a new ball and a pitch from the drop zone.

It’s the same in life. Life often puts a sucker pin and a floating tree to distract you from you. Those who succeed admire the game, admire the sucker pins temptation, and the floating tree is just an amusement.

What’s your sucker pin? What’s your floating tree?