My late husband and I went to our favorite Palm Springs golf course. It’s 108 degrees in June. We’re on vacation, precious time away from our home in Edmonds, and especially the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which my husband attended at least monthly in the good years and much more frequently in the bad years. We loved playing golf together and zooming around the sparsely populated course, just the two of us.
I hit a shot. It ends in a terrible lie, as was often the case back then because I was still learning to golf (a bad lie is a place where I find it much harder to get a good shot).
Dan says to me, “Move the ball, baby. Give you a better lie “
I say, “No, I can’t, I have to count every beat.”
Dan says, “This is not about your score. You will not learn to play better golf if you do not give yourself the opportunity to take good shots. Save the dash count for your womens club competition. “
I’m silent as I just step up and meet him and ignore his advice. Most of the time it’s one shitty shot, at that point it becomes a series of shitty shots until I finally painfully make it into the hole. And I ignore his advice almost every time. He doesn’t hold a score, he enjoys the game. I keep points and it’s painful. I never fail to put it on the USGA’s handicap system.
And that’s me, in those precious moments on the golf course with my husband, the person who loved me and supported me more than anything, and who only wanted the best for me. I was simply unable to listen to him, unable to make the game of golf a success through feeling and practice, not even sometimes. I couldn’t have a better chance of successfully hitting the ball before worrying about not counting every stroke perfectly.
I am such a rule chaser. I can barely live with myself if I’m not doing everything right (even though I’ve gotten a lot better). I was parked at the dentist’s in downtown Edmonds once and the nose of my car was barely above the white line. Not only did I move the car once (still not in the white line), but throughout the appointment I wondered if I would get a ticket. Yes I am.
Dan was a very good golfer, but he never established a handicap. he just played for the joy of it. He was a great coach and knew intuitively that I would benefit from good shots, but I wouldn’t allow him to give me the advice that he knew would make me a better player. Every time I hit a great shot, he would yell “Oh my god!” like it was the biggest shot he’d ever seen; How many of them have I missed? Every time I refused to move the ball, I didn’t get the gift he wanted to give me.
For what? Would I have been a bad person if I had moved that ball? I probably thought so.
Then there was the time I played golf with my new boyfriend (now husband) Eric. When I saw where my ball had landed in a difficult situation, it was the first time it told me, “Get your ball out of this lie before you hit it. “I couldn’t hold back the regret that flooded me. As we continued to play golf, I sobbed heartbroken for at least 15 minutes, so sad about all the times I didn’t just move the ball when Dan told me, for those lost moments.
If I ever stop defining myself by whether or not I follow the rules perfectly, if I can ever truly fully support myself with love and compassion instead of perfection and judgment, then I will find myself at a new level of personal growth consider . IM working on it.
Incidentally, when Eric told me and I hit a good shot, I corrected the lie – and I felt the satisfaction even through my tears. No regret.
Because there are times in life when it’s okay to move the ball. It’s really.
– From Pritam Potts
Coach Pritam Potts is a writer and strength trainer. After more than 16 years of educating athletes and clients of all ages as the co-owner of Edmonds-based Advanced Athlete LLC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. She writes about health & fitness, grief & loss, love & life at www.advancedathlete.com.