My bucket list is filled with goals to achieve and places to go, someday. Over the last few years I have been thinking of things not done, goals not reached, places not visited and concerns. Do I still have twenty healthy years left to finish everything?
Last year the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association announced that Golf Club of Oklahoma in Broken Arrow would be the site for the 2020 Women’s State Amateur. Pouncing like a cat on a mouse, energy and drive filled my body. I knew I must find the stamina and strong back to play in the four days of competition in the Oklahoma heat and humidity of July, because I had some ‘unfinished business’ to take care of on that golf course.
In 1988 I played Golf Club of Oklahoma for a USGA Women’s Mid Amateur qualifier. With three teenagers at home, and a golf coaching job at NHS I set out to qualify. I knew from the practice round that I must learn how to hit out of the sand and straight up an embankment of 19′. Thank you Tom Fazio, Course Designer, who found ways to challenge a golfer mentally on every shot. That summer my husband, Jack, drove me to the sand banks of the Canadian River where he shagged balls for me as I practiced hitting. My visual was to pretend I could hit the ball as high as the highway bridge.
My plan was nearly flawless. When I teed off The Golf Course of Oklahoma that morning in August 1988 against Susan Basolo Kennedy and Deena Dills Nowotny I lost all focus.
Jack tried in every way to help me swing and hit the golf ball squarely, but my mind and body would not work together until I faced the 17th hole, a par 3 with water to the right and deep sandy bunkers to the left. I had practiced that shot. I knew that shot like the back of my hand, and I performed that shot to perfection.
Instead of landing the ball on the green with my tee shot, I pulled it into the deep bunker on the left and found myself faced with the shot I had practiced on the river bank. My body sprang into action. The sand wedge lifted the ball up, onto the green, where it promptly rolled into the hole for a birdie 2. I failed to qualify but I did have ONE fantastic shot that day.
*Dena Dills Nowotny is in the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame.
*Susan Basolo Kennedy was a talented dynamic golfer Herstory.
Thirty-two years later, I grabbed the opportunity to play that course once again in competition. On June 6, 1966 I shot a 76 at Ponca City Country Club and qualified for Championship Flight. Never again have I played that well in competition, especially not in a qualifying round. So those two thoughts filled my mind and it became my driving force, even through the panic of Covid.
I worked out in the gym with weights, focused on strength and balance with Yoga and Tai Chi classes, and swung the golf club in my backyard to keep my body in shape all winter. Older bodies do not perform like younger bodies in anyway except we can still focus and persevere, like an old mountain goat.
This spring Dr. Beth Brown, sports psychologist, introduced me to “SupHer Power Golf for Women.” The mental focus helped me push ahead and set a firm pictures of how and what I planned to achieve.
Did I do what I set out to do? This became my driving question instead of scoring as I played in May, June, and July. Did I set out to play 18 holes in thirty putts or less? Did I set out to hit my Driver down the middle and at least 160 yards (I may not out drive you, but I will beat you around the green!) Did I set out to chip the ball within 10′ of the hole? My scorecard this year has a scores and + or – if I played to my goal on a hole.
The process of being mentally prepared paved the way. Every shot I performed the same routine:
1) see the line vividly (take a snapshot)
2) stand over the ball and fully visualize the shot (the snapshot I took earlier)
3) slowly take my club back
Did I do what I set out to do? YES. On July 20, 2020 I set out to play my best qualifying round of golf since 1966 and I did it. I did it at Golf Club of Oklahoma where I didn’t have any fantastic shots, but I hit only 84 shots on a course of 5,300 yards. My body and mind know that I climbed my Mt. Everest and have seen the view. It felt damn good.
Earl Woods successfully taught his son, Tiger, to ‘PUTT THE PICTURE.’
Letty has Literally learned to “LIVE THE PICTURE.”
Footnote: My timer went off at 4:00 today so I would take a break, mix the meatloaf, and bake it 45 minutes while I wrote.
I took the break outside, felt refreshed and walked back to my studio to write.
I never glanced at the kitchen! So we are having spaghetti and meat sauce.
Life, just like golf sometimes gets off track.