There are a lot of sports feats out there that, at my age, I know I won’t accomplish. Just this past weekend, I asked my roommate to watch me jump and give me an estimate of my vertical leap. His face, somewhat void of emotion and confused, spoke volumes about the state of my athleticism. Looking as though he had just caught a whiff of something rancid, he said, “I don’t know, Will. Like, 13 inches?”
It was at that moment that I realized that I’m not the athlete I used to be. I can’t dunk, I can’t get rim, and it sure sounds like I can’t even get net at this point. I’m just now realizing that I probably can’t run a mile in under 10 minutes or run the bases without feeling somewhat winded. I was on the phone last week and the person on the other end asked me, “Why are you out of breath?” Confused, I had the realization that it was because I had just walked up a flight of stairs. I used to describe myself as “above-average at all sports,” and now I’m even questioning the notion of that. I mean, I coughed on a plane last month and thought I tore my pec.
Before I started my job, there was a rumor going around the office that I was a scratch golfer. While I wish I would have perpetuated that rumor rather than immediately dispel it, I didn’t. I laughed in their faces with a “where’d ya hear that?” before describing myself as a “mid-80s guy,” which, in hindsight, might have still been an overstatement given the current state of my game.
I’ve been golfing since about 1995, and my greatest accomplishments to date are getting second place in a youth tournament (out of three golfers) and birdieing number 13 from the US Open tees on the Torrey Pines South course in May 2014. And while all golfers aren’t destined for greatness, we all have the relatively same chances at attaining golf’s golden goose: getting a hole-in-one.
Sure, for PGA professionals like Miguel Ángel Jiménez, hole-in-ones are a dime a dozen. But for the amateur golfer, our opportunities to achieve golf’s toughest feat are few and far between. For every shot we stick within five feet, we have an errant slice into the woods. It’s the nature of the beast when you have the inconsistency of a non-PGA pro.
There are a lot of life moments that, yeah, I’ll probably achieve. I assume I’ll get married, have kids, and retire at some point. It feels like everyone does that though. But not everyone gets the joy of sitting in their den, peering over to their desk, and seeing an encased Titleist NXT Tour #2 from that time they aced #15 at their childhood stomping grounds, Harbor Point Golf Course. They don’t get to smile remembering when they said, “Oh man, this one’s got a shot,” before dropping for that ever-elusive “1” on the scorecard.
Experts estimate that an average golfer has a 12,500-to-1 chance at getting a hole-in-one, which means I’ll have to play roughly 3,125 rounds of golf between now and the time I die. While you’d think my chances increase with each bogey-save I make as I inch closer to those 3,125 rounds, I feel as though I’m getting further and further away from the last great sports feat I can tangibly attain.
Yeah, I’ve been working on my process. I’ve been trying to perfect my trajectory. I’ve been watchful of my tempo being too fast, or too slow; my hands finishing too low, or too high. I’m keeping enough money in my free checking account to ensure I can afford the round of drinks in the casual bar should I drop one. But I’m also trying to spend every extra dime I have on some new irons (especially considering I’ve been playing without a 9-iron for a solid two years now). And you can bet I’m not taking any mulligans on par 3s for fear of wasting my one swing of glory on a second attempt. I just don’t know if I have the skill level, luck, and patience anymore.
But that’s not going to stop me from Periscope’ing every par 3 I play this summer just in case..
Image via Whitney Maxwell