Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.
– Arnold Palmer
Before ever touching a golf club, I personally never even considered golf a sport. I mean, come on, a bunch of fat old guys swinging a metal stick at a white ball down a stretch of grass while knocking back a few cold ones in a golf cart – too easy. It’s not even physically exertive right? It’s just a silly game your dad and his office buddies play on weekends as an excuse to get away from your crazy mom. I have never been so wrong in my entire life. Golf is so so much more than a game.
2010, Marriot Phuket. So here I was ,chilling, kickin’ it with the family at a five star hotel on a gorgeous beach in Thailand. Life was good. I was 18 years old – spoilt, immature, lazy and didn’t give a damn about anything in life except living it up. I had no dreams, no aspirations and clearly no direction. I had just bombed out of my ‘O’ Levels racking up a solid 24 points. Pretty bad considering I was from ACS (for the record; the greatest school on the face of the planet #hatersgonnahate). By the grace of my father, I was enrolled at the Australian International School Singapore. Naturally going there, all I was interested In were parties and hot girls. International School in SG = Party Central what! Kk, I’ll save that for later, back to Phuket.
So on one sunny day my family decides to take a trip to the local golf club, Blue Mountains Golf Resort, Phuket. Legit, it is one of the nicest courses in the world but being the idiot I was, I was more interested in sleeping on the beach. But I was still forced against my own will to go along. Naturally we began the day with beginner lessons etc. The coach is talking blah blah blah whatever, let me just hit the damn ball. So finally I’m given a club and I’m standing on the range hacking away at this now miniscule white ball with all my might and repeatedly missing! I probably spent the next 3 hours there trying to simply make contact with this thing and man was it addictive. I was bitten my friends. I had the bug. Golfers out there, you get my drift.
The margin for error is so small. One half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. Al Pacino was spot on people.
Fast forward 2½ years, and I was playing golf like a total pro. LOL, jokes, I still sucked. But man was hooked on this sport. The scary thing was, golf had without a doubt, transformed my life. I was waking up at 4:30 in the morning, on school days, to take a bus from my house in Bukit Timah to the Keppel Club driving range to practice for a couple of hours before then going back to my school in Bishan. I was skipping parties and club nights because I wanted rest to go practice the next morning. I was going to the gym. And no, not to get massive biceps to impressive the ladies, my pretty face was all they needed. Sorry, I digress. I hung a poster of Tiger in my room and in print I wrote ‘sacrificed or regret, you choose’. I was even studying! That part freaked me out the most. It was clear to me now. Golf was my direction, my passion and my calling in life. But if I wanted to get there, I needed to go to a good school with a reputable golf team to train with. Golf had become my solace, my fortitude. I could go to the driving range any time, day or night, and find a peace of mind I could achieve nowhere else.
I remember my first tournament round of golf. Hitting it great all week, going into the Monday competition at Warren Country Club, I was oozing with confidence. I went out and totally lost it. I was hitting it fat, thin, into the water, out of bounds, evening losing the ball. I had no control over what was going on, both in my mind and in my swing. That day was a real turning point for me. Getting home, my mother asked how’d I played. I replied, turns out I’m not that good after all. Yes my spirit was down, but all I wanted to do was go out and practice more. I wanted to find that dent in my armor and close it. It was tremendously humbling to realize how I thought I had a gift or a natural talent but by the looks of it, I didn’t have jack. Golfing legend Gary Player once said ‘you must work very hard to become a natural golfer’.
In more ways than one, golf has really changed my life and defined who I am as person today. All the traits that sum up my character I have learned and crafted on the course. Patience, discipline, faith, will power, dealing with loss & frustration, managing anxiety, self- confidence and even humility, all, I’d like to think, attained through the introduction of a mere ‘game’ to my life.
The best part is, golf is a journey, and in many aspects draws striking resemblance to the journey of life. As I have matured as a golfer, I have matured as an individual and I hope to continue doing so for the rest of my days.
I’ve found my purpose. Now go find yours.
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