As a golfer I am not intimidated by tough courses, sand traps, or poor weather conditions. I was raised to be a tough competitor and have never backed down from a good challenge. Sometimes I actually go sniffing for one.
About six years ago I was summoned by one of my golf buddies to a round at the famous Doral "Blue Monster." Nettled in a suburban community near Miami, it is one of four courses located at the ritzy Doral Golf Resort & Spa, once home to the Ford Championship.
An invitation to the Blue Monster summoned childhood fears of creepy creatures, and from what I’d read and heard this monster was a dinosaur of sorts. Then I remembered that I was all grown up and had a no-fear attitude—nothing could stop me now!
I graciously accepted the invitation to play with my buddy and commenced the week-long thrash talking session leading up to our Saturday morning round. Every single day that week I went to the range to perfect my skills and I was betting on them too. I was convinced that I would be a formidable opponent for my friend who had just completed classes at an elite golf school.
I set out Saturday morning to silence my friend Dane and all my critics. This round of golf had taken on a life of its own—I almost called Nike for sponsorship. But I arrived at the parking lot only to retrieve a voicemail from Dane—he was running late. Fierce competitor that I am, I automatically thought he might be trying to throw off my game. Dane knows I have to hit half a bucket of balls before the round.
Still, I stayed true to my game, got my cart, and headed down to the range. There I was executing shots based on the course layout by then embedded in my mind, because that's the first rule of thumb: Know where you will hit your first shot.
Dane finally arrived and we headed out for the game of the week. I was very relaxed and inspired by my inner pit bull, so I expected nothing but good shots. On the first hole, I hit a beauty center of the fairway. Dane must have been feeling nervous because he doffed his first shot.
Hole after hole I laid wood on my good friend, playing on my experience as a seasoned golfer. I played the front nine like a semi-pro, shooting 41, while Dane shot 47.
But it was on the back nine that Dane’s clubs gained power while mine went on vacation. All of a sudden, his game showed up and mine was nowhere to be found. Then I remembered my father's words: Play against the course.
I tried to recover, making better shot selections, but I’d already been declared the loser of the day. Dane and I finished our rounds in the mid 80s, but it was the course that ate us alive. Since that day, I have brought a new asset to my game—modesty. As it turns out, it’s not your opponent who decides if you’ve got game—it’s the course.
And yes, the Blue Monster played us both. Fore!!!!!