A few weeks ago, I told you how I qualified for my first USGA Mid-AM. This past weekend (it felt like a lifetime), I competed, and it was quite the experience. Here is a brief recap. Also, next Monday, we will debut a new Sweet Spot episode with a more in-depth conversation as well.
Playing in my first USGA event was a tremendous range of emotions.
Truthfully, I had massive anxiety leading up to Mid-AM. I quickly went from "Holy crap, I made it!" to "Holy crap, I now have to play in this thing!"
Knowing a lot of people would be tracking me was a little unnerving. But let's be honest, I did that to myself!
Saturday was an interesting start. We got called off the course after 3 holes and had a very long weather delay. When we came back out, I had an incredible stretch of holes that made me feel like I belonged and a brief feeling of invincibility. I felt great, kept making birdies, and was totally confident over the ball.
I hit some of the best shots of my life and will never forget them. A swinging hook from 200 yards in the trees to 3 feet (don't worry, there was a clear path!!!). Stepping over an approach shot on a Par 5 from 230 and telling myself I am going to smoke this hybrid, then landing it 10 feet from the pin.
Both are instant top-10 memories in 25+ years of playing. Then, I got called off the course, and the fire was extinguished.
Less than twelve hours later, everything felt different. I took a seat on the struggle bus and lost confidence fast.
We had to finish the last six holes early the next morning, and my game felt totally different.
As all of you know, golf comes at you very quickly. This was yet another reminder for me!
Even though I am the one usually giving the advice, I need to hear it too. Multiple weather delays made it a mental and physical grind.
To say we got the bad end of the draw is an understatement. But it's no excuse; I watched a strong player in my group deal with it all, and he made it to match play. Observing him was a great learning experience for me.
Thankfully, there was one final stretch of perfect weather and appreciation for being out there. Playing in a national championship was beyond a long shot for me just a few years ago.
I still am blown away at how quickly things change in this game.
And how adding layers of pressure changes your comfort level. My inexperience showed. I definitely got too high and too low. Usually, I can manage that when I compete.
But I also got glimpses of what's possible in my game. I won't let one tough day keep me down.
36 hours felt like a lifetime, and I don't think I've had a wider spectrum of emotions.
Anxiety, pride, embarrassment, dejection, elation, fear - they all showed up! I am genuinely drained.
I tried to prepare myself for the unknowns, but you never really can in golf. I know this experience pushed me to the brink of discomfort, and I will use that as a learning experience.
I always tell everyone that if you want to get better at this game, you need to force yourself to places you don't want to go. Everything always feels a bit easier afterward.
The sting of losing your game during the most pressure is very hard to deal with. On Sunday, I had to play 24 holes, and as much as I tried, many of them had me staring into the abyss mentally.
But that is exactly what I signed up for. When you put your game on the line, you have to accept the good and the bad.
The event was unbelievable. The USGA did a phenomenal job setting up Fenway and Sleepy Hollow and managing the horrible weather. Two incredible tests of championship golf. Good shots were rewarded, and bad ones were punished ruthlessly. Unfortunately, I spent too much time in the deep rough on Sunday
Thanks again for everyone's kind words. I received so many messages of encouragement leading up to the event, and I deeply appreciate them.
There is a part of me that feels like I let a lot of people down, but that's my irrational brain speaking. I felt the love.
To be honest, it's sometimes really hard for me to put my game out there publically. But I shared the good of making this event, so it's only fair for me to share some of my struggles when I got there. I try to do it so I can help others, and you all can learn from what I go through in some small way. Thanks again!