By Jared Erving
One of the greatest aspects of golfing in college is the ability to have social experiences which you normally would not have the opportunity to have. However, it is hard to balance the nuances between being social and friendly, and keeping yourself “in the zone” without distractions while maintaining proper etiquette on the course. You can learn about your opponent, but you cannot be a distraction either, and on the flip side, no serious golfer wants to be distracted.
Another key aspect of having matches with other schools is the chance to learn about yourself. If you end up playing poorly, you are given the opportunity to learn where you need to be mentally, and what you need to focus on in your mental game. You can be in the perfect mindset while practicing with other players from your team, or while you are out on the course by yourself. However, when you are in a competitive match with opponents you have never met it can trigger nerves, and all kinds of self-doubt, throwing your game off entirely.
When out for the first time, you might worry about who you are paired with and who you are shooting against. Whether it is an opponent or a teammate hitting that little white ball off of the first tee box and putting it in play safely is, and can be, nerve wracking. While it is wonderful to support your teammates, it’s also normal to feel intimidated by someone who has a better command of their skill sets than you might have. The bottom line is that you have to learn that the only person whose game you must worry about or can control is your own.
With these things in mind after having played your first match you can see where you truly are in the game, both mentally and with your skill sets. You have started to learn that thinking about the other players game will only be a distraction that will cause you to slip mentally. When you hit a bad shot and you see the opposing player make that fantastic chip for one under par, you cannot let that get to you. Nor can you let seeing a teammate chunk it and then recover faster than you did interfere with your focus.
The past two matches that the SMCC squad has played in (at Beaver Meadow in Concord, New Hampshire and at Purpoodock Country Club in Cape Elizabeth) were ,great learning opportunities for the team. While the scores were not what the golfers were looking for, the learning experience and reality of where we stand as golfers was just as important. In many ways they were far more important to the golfers. With the experience and the opportunity to learn about ourselves, the two matches have to be thought of as a positive for the SMCC golfers, especially when it comes to understanding the level of competition in the YSCC.
After all, golf is about knowing what your intents and goals are, from placing a shot in the far way, to recovering from a misplaced shot, to shaking off a bad hole, and remaining in the groove for as long as possible when you crank out a beautiful shot. It’s about focus, concentration and follow- through in achieving your main goal: to move towards your potential and to be the best golfer you can be.