Those of us who got to watch The Honda Classic this past weekend know that Sunday’s final round was pretty fucking awesome. The only thing better than the hours of golf-watchin’ I’ve been prescribed for my weekly case of the Sunday scaries would have been the playoff golf I thought was inevitably to come. I suppose I have Keith Mitchell to thank, or be upset with, for that.
But seriously. Congrats to Keith Mitchell on his first PGA Tour win. That was an awesome performance under pressure and he earned it.
And let’s get real – of course I’m not upset. Sure, when it comes to professional golf, I often find myself rooting for favorites and the bigger, household names on the basis of familiarity, but considering the host of prominent names in contention come late-Sunday, how could I be upset? I got to watch the likes of Koepka, Rickie, and a blistering Ryan Palmer compete alongside a host of other great golfers, with the cherry on top being Keith earning his first PGA Tour win* in style.
*Well, I’ve seen the claim of first professional win period multiple times, but according to Tim Reynolds at AP Sports in his Keith Mitchell gets his first PGA Tour win, taking Honda article, Mitchell already holds a professional win from “three years ago, on something called the G Pro Tour.” Reynolds added: “As is the case with mini-tour life, hardly anybody was watching and hardly anybody noticed. He earned $5,600.”*
Regardless of that, you get the point. Keith hasn’t won in a while and what it takes to play golf professionally, let alone take a PGA Tour win from players such as Rickie and Koepka under pressure, is absurd and not lost on me. On top of that, I happen to know a little bit about Mitchell’s past struggles when it comes to golf, which can be found in the screenshot and hyperlinked article below.
In effect, I couldn’t help but feel happy for Señor Mitchell, especially when considering the feat that winning on any competitive tour truly is in its own right. And in this simple enjoyment of competitive golf as entertainment, I realized that finding enjoyment in the success of others is just another valuable thing I’ve picked up from golf.
In thinking about those valuable things, I got to thinking some more, which in turn led me to thinking about why I love golf so much overall
And one of those reasons is the pure demand for individual performance – that individual accountability required under pressure where your biggest opponent is yourself. When it comes to loving golf, it’s about so much more than accurately hitting a little white ball with a varied assortment of sticks. It’s about trusting your training and instincts, then lettin’ ‘er fly. I see that and many of the other skills learned through golf as incredibly pertinent and applicable to life in so many ways, and even though similar lessons can be taken from other sports, I’m not sure any other takes more focus, confidence in yourself, and mental control when it comes down to the wire.
With such pressure comes character, so naturally, watching the world’s best players lay it all on the line in crunch-time, for me, is second to none. Sure, we’d all love some extra holes, but in the end, I don’t mind missing out on a playoff because I can’t help but consider everything that must align for such intense moments of competition to occur as is. Just think about it…
For players that make the weekend, you’re looking at somewhere around 280 swings, given that you shoot par over four rounds at PGA National, a par-70 course. In those 72 holes, an assortment of things could go wrong for your average bear.
Now I don’t mean to be a dumbass, because obviously These Guys Are Good, professionals, and not your average bears at all, but I’m just trying to explain why I appreciate golf so much… The processes of mediation and clear thinking. The way that principles of thinking within golf can be applied to and help your mindset elsewhere in life. Even the way that tournaments spanning from the PGA level all the way down to juniors get decided by mere strokes time and time again fascinates me.
I think that’s because such close competition shows that, in the pursuit of success, every little thing matters, be that in the effort put into our day-to-day lives, work, hobbies, dreams or relationships.
It’s hopeful and optimistic, two things which I am generally not. It also aligns all too well with classic sayings such as “a little goes a long way” and “golf is a game of inches.”
Golf is about so much more than just golf and I just love how much of it is about stepping up to the plate. Be it on the tee-box, fairway, or just in your life in general, there’s something to learn from such confidence based in preparation. Shout out to Keith Mitchell for showing us this on the biggest stage.