Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Fury of Myrtle Beach

Okay, so it was not only FREEZING, it was windy and rainy too! But the elements couldn't stop us from playing golf in Myrtle Beach!

Download our latest Golf for Beginners Myrtle Beach Podcast and listen to our adventures first-hand from our comfortable ride on Spirit Airlines' upgraded service to our not-so-comfortable golf experiences at Meadowlands Golf Club in Calabash, NC (just a hop, skip and a jump from Myrtle Beach), the infamous Tidewater Golf Club and finally, Myrtlewood Palmetto Golf Course.

(Not to mention my husband's chauvinistic comments!)

But it's not all about golf in Myrtle Beach. Experience the ambiance from our perspective. Entertainment, restaurants and nightlife are all featured in this week's show.

For now, let's discuss how to play "happy golf", even when it rains on your Myrtle Beach vacation!

This may sound easy enough to accomplish, but I assure you it is one of the hardest lessons that I’ve set out to achieve this season.

Two simple words, “play” and “happy” were taught to me as soon as I could enter a sandbox but it appears that I have forgotten the true meaning behind them. Allow me to explain.

Winds were whipping, rain fell heavily and it was bone-chilling cold last week in Myrtle Beach. Temperatures rarely rose above 50 degrees. With the lack of sunlight and clothing that I brought for spring-like conditions my focus dwindled with every passing hole at both Meadowlands and Tidewater Golf Clubs.

Although I tried to smile, my teeth were chattering. Every time the rain intensified my facial muscles contracted and my back tightened. Driving along in the cart made me shiver. Even though Barry kept his arm tightly around my shoulders it was a never-ending battle between myself and the elements. My smile turned upside down and stayed in that position throughout most of my much-needed golf vacation.

This hurt my game. As a matter of fact, I really didn’t have a game this past week. I can’t blame this on the elements, only on my inability to keep those two words as my mental focus.

Seems like an easy enough concept to grasp, right?

Last night I watched the Champions Tour AT&T Classic and although the conditions were similar to the ones I encountered the outcome was amazingly different. It wasn’t just a few more layers of clothing that separated me from Tom Kite but it was also his tremendous ability to block out what he couldn’t control and concentrate solely on the task at hand. Kite didn’t fall apart, I did.

That made me think about my goal this season, that is, the ability to “let a smile be my umbrella". Tom Kite laughed at the gloominess even though he was clearly uncomfortable. He didn’t let the elements get to him. He didn’t let the slick grips of his clubs or his less-than-perfect shots faze him. He merely shook it all off and calmly made his way through the course.

I’ve seen Tiger Woods among the guilty too. He occasionally curses and throws a club or two (and on national television too!) but he has a short memory. Phil Mickelson, after missing one of those nefarious three-footers for par, pastes a blatantly fake smile in his attempt to regain his composure and forget what happened only seconds earlier. Although Lefty’s fans know that his smile is not a genuine attempt at forgetting his bad play, we sympathize with him until he gets back on track.

Perhaps the illusion of happiness is all we need to change our disposition?

Whether you’re a novice like myself or if you have been playing golf for years, the ability to conquer anger during a round affects us all. Everyone hits bads shots. Golf is a game of recovery. Those that learn this confidently smile in the face of adversity.

I have dedicated this season to learning how to play happier, how not to allow annoyances such as fat shots on a meticulously manicured fairway or thin shot out of a wet sand trap ruin an entire round of golf. It’s going to be a difficult lesson to re-learn even though its the single idea that can turn a beginner like me into a real “player".

Direct all comments and questions to You could hear your remarks on our next podcast!

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