I was training for the State tournament and everybody I knew was trying to give me advice. My brother-in-law told me that I drastically needed to change by diet. “Winners eat natural fat and no dairy,” he said. I tried it. My closest friend told me that I couldn’t give away my life source to women; in fact, it was best not to think about women for the next 6 weeks. I tried that, with no success. My golf instructor interrupted me during a grueling work day to tell me that the guys on the driving range were talking about me. “They say you have ‘Game’, Andy. That’s how it was for me too.” He said this with a far-off mystical voice. “You can turn pro one day. Just push all distractions aside.”
“Thanks Daryl,” I said.
I played 9 holes with Fat Tom because he wanted to give me some “tips”.
“Babe, when you play with weekend warriors, you start acting like them. Finish your putts; I don’t care if they’re 3 inches from the hole. When you feel like you understand golf, it will give you the shanks.” Tom squared up to his ball, took a practice swing, and shanked it into the woods.
“Damn! And look who’s been giving you so much god damn advice!” His face turned red. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or embarrassed, so I tried to pretend his advice-giving never happened. We played a couple more holes in silence. “Golf knows no master and those who claim the title for even a moment get humbled,” he said. “You’ll be okay training for this tournament as long as you avoid what most golfers do.”
“And what’s that?” I asked.
“Like fishermen, they lie to themselves. A double bogey becomes a bogey and a bogey becomes a par. They give themselves mulligans and gimmies so they can feel good about their game on the weekends.”
He looked at me square in the face. “Never lie to yourself, Andy. Winners accept defeat and move on. They never pretend it didn’t happen.”
I had a nightmare round of golf at the State tournament that year. I even got the shanks and came in last place, but I never forgot Tom’s words; they’ve served me well. I don’t know if that man knew what he was talking about, but that moment meant something to me.