There has been a conspicuous reduction in the number of new faces working the treadmills, exercise bikes, and elliptical machines at my local YMCA. It seems the six weeks of winter of 2019 has taken its toll on all the Resolutioners hoping against hope that “this was the year.”
In order to avoid their fate, it feels like an appropriate time to check in on my 2019 New Year’s Golf Resolutions. Eight simple goals that may or may not prove so simple to accomplish, as there encompass varying degrees of control that I can assert towards each goal.
Here’s the list I settled on at the start of the year:
- Don’t play same tees for consecutive rounds
- Take more lessons and practice more
- Walk every round that I reasonably can
- Play golf in the rain
- Play golf with 5 new people
- Take my son along for at 9 holes
- Take my dog along for 9 holes
- Take someone on their first round of golf
It’s a modest list populated with what I think are realistic goals. Some will be ongoing challenges throughout the year, some will be check-the-box accomplishments, but all of them should help improve my golf experience for 2019 over years past.
1. Don’t play the same tees for consecutive rounds – I’m on track with this goal thus far. Playing from the red tees earlier this winter opened my eyes to how very different a course can be simply by changing the distance and tee box from which I play. Rather than grooving essentially the same shots from about the same places on the same golf course over the course of the season, I’m having more fun playing a different course on the same real estate every time out.
2. Take more lessons and practice more – The brutal winter weather thus far has limited the motivation and opportunities to take lessons or truly grind away on the range hitting balls. Instead, I’ve worked on finding my putting stroke again and working in the gym to increase my overall strength and flexibility. Once the weather breaks and I can play more regularly, my motivation to work on my game should jump up as well.
3. Walk every round that I reasonably can – This is probably the easiest goal to achieve. Other than playing in Kentucky Amateur Series events, where the cart is included in the entry fee and pace of play can be glacial, I will try to walk the rest of my rounds this year simply because I love to walk. I’m supposed to spoil myself this year by purchasing a push cart instead of carrying my Sun Mountain Four 5 bag, but milestone birthdays are for celebrating and giving gifts to one’s self.
4. Play golf in the rain – I have a good head start on this goal, as I’ve played in both drizzle and pouring rain already in 2019. It’s part of my “training” for my Scotland trip later this year and a good way 1) to test out my rain gear and 2) play quickly around an empty golf course. Warmer temperatures are only going to tempt me further for more rainy golf.
5. Play golf with five new people – Despite the worst of my inner, cynical, cranky demons, I do enjoy meeting new people and think that the golf course is one of the best places to do so. I play enough tournament golf, that this should be easy to accomplish without any effort. However, my goal includes not being so passive, instead reaching out to friends and Twitter acquaintances that I’ve not played golf with before and enjoy a couple of hours of stress-free conversation and competition with them.
6. Take my son along for nine holes – My older son is four years old and has demonstrated an interest in golf. He’s ventured with me to my home course’s practice green and joined the little kids’ clinic at Man O’ War golf. My hope is that he can join me at the course this summer to see what a “big course” looks like, watch how golf is played, appreciate the beauty of the course, and begin to appreciate golf etiquette. I think he’s ready.
7. Take my dog along for nine holes – One of my few regrets is that I have not taken our family dog to the golf course with me yet. She loves to retrieve the Birdie Balls that I hit in the back yard and regular golf balls that I will occasionally chip and pitch. She is a sweet, well-trained, well-behaved dog that I know would love to walk the fairways with me. I hadn’t given this serious consideration until I discovered how many other dog owners were passionate about getting their dogs to the course (thank you, Darin Bunch).
8. Take someone out for their first ever round of golf – this is my “stretch” or “reach” goal for 2019. Frankly, I don’t know how many people who I know that have an interest in playing or trying golf but have never taken the plunge. But I’m going to work harder on finding people who are interested in golf and getting them out to at least hit some balls and eventually get them to the course.
What is not included in my resolutions are any hard targets or numerical benchmarks as far as rounds played, average scores, or handicap index levels. I’ve set such goals in years past an all that it did was lead to fluctuating cycles of frustration and disappointment as I chased the numbers around the golf courses and practice ranges.
Of course I would be happy if handicap index was lower because that would mean I’m playing better golf. However, I am content let my scores and handicap be a byproduct of how I’m playing rather than an end goal. Last year, I just tried to keep my handicap around single digits and I ended up winning my home club’s Net Club Championship.
Maybe the list is too ambitious. Perhaps it isn’t ambitious enough. Either way, I think I will call 2019 a successful year in golf if I can simply put in an honest effort towards these goals, and that will be enough.