Some Final Thoughts

As the weather continues to drop, it is harder and harder for me to go out and whack balls at the Penn State White Course. Honestly, I did not realize how fast the time flies by, until I found out few days ago that my final exam would be within a month. Since this will be my last passion blog post, I want to share some of my random personal thoughts on golf.

What does golf mean to me?

Golf is special to me. I started to play golf after I moved to the United States three years ago. At first, golf was just a means of getting out of the house, and I did not realized how much I would love it later on. This was my first year in America, when I agonized over language barriers and cultural gaps, but golf offered fun and relief to me during this tough period.

What have I learned from golf?

Golf have taught me a lot of things, both mentally and physically. Among all, the risk analysis is my most important lesson, which I will probably remember for years. Rain was sprinkling as I walked down the fairway at the eighth hole at Riverview Golf Course during a match against Newton Fall High School. The hole was a narrow 480-yard dogleg-right par five, with bushes on the left and ditches on the right. Near the ditches were giant black walnut trees, waving their arms, as if inviting any errant ball. An immense bunker guarded the left side of the green, requiring a left-to-right shot.

If I play a low fade with my three wood, I may be able to reach the green in two, I speculated. Although the shot is demanding, I’ll take advantages of my fabulous drive.

After several practice swings, I addressed the ball, took the club back, and swung forth with all my reserved power. “Bang!” A shock radiated from the club face, up through the shaft, and down into my arms. A ball heading straight right appeared on the scene. It flew over the ditch, smashed into the trees, and declared farewell.

Out of bounds and one-stroke penalty.

Stunned by the horrendous approach, I chunked the very next shot into the ditch. After scrambling around the green, I ended up with an eleven when I sank the last putt.

My coach came over and admonished, “You should’ve played SMART. Be conservative. It would’ve been an easy par, not eleven.” Upset, I didn’t respond and took several deep breaths. However, my frustration boiled.

If hitting difficult shots is a recipe for disaster, is playing conservatively a guarantee for success? Is there anything wrong with taking up challenges? I gazed at the Callaway ball in my hand. “Play smart” was indeed a good idea, but challenges are the sublime blending of risks and rewards. Granted, being aggressive allows me to play my best and my worst golf at the same time, but what of it?