While I was sitting in the airport, a friend sent me a YouTube by a Jewish Rabbi titled, “How Do Lobsters Grow?” It was about how lobsters don’t shed their shell until they feel pressure. Then they go off where they can be safe, shed their shell & grow a new, bigger one..only to do it all over again when the pressure mounts. The point was that you can’t grow without some pressure…which is much like one of my favorite quotes as well, “without struggle there is no progress”. This also goes back to the last blog about salmon swimming upstream…it seems nature is the best teacher. Nature is God’s purest form of creation and it’s most unblemished. We just need to listen & be open to learning.
I finally got to Florida tonight. It’s only been 10 nights but it seems like 10 months. Tom & I have never been apart this long, nor has he been away from home this long…struggle. He’s not playing for a gift certificate or a trophy anymore, he’s paving the way for our future…struggle. Most, if not all of his playing partners have already been on tour…struggle. Yes, this certainly is a lesson in pressure and struggle.
But all is right now, the keeper of the happy place is here. Tomorrow is a new day, a new opportunity…a new opportunity to grow.
Why do salmon swim up stream? To spawn…to go to a place that’s “safe”. Why is it safe? Because it’s devoid of most of their predators – BECAUSE it’s up stream. But they have that natural fighting instinct to do what seems counter-intuitive to us.
Let’s apply that to life. When do most successful people achieve their best results? When the odds are stacked against them. They know that their hard work will pay off eventually & they’re willing to risk it all to get there, even when (or most often times when) someone tells them they can’t do it.
Now let’s go even further and apply that concept to sports. Think Tiger Woods. C’mon…an African American golf superstar? Please. Jordan Spieth…win a PGA event at 19? Not gonna happen. Can ANYONE top Jack Nicklaus’ wins? That remains to be seen…but I bet there’s some young guns who have their sights set at that goal.
I’m trying to give you some insight into Tom’s world and what goes on out on the golf course. Tom has been a winner for a long time. In his mind a bad shot is not acceptable. A missed green from 100 yds out is something someone else does, not him. There is no room in his game for less than perfect. This is not a pride thing…these are the all-too-real expectations he’s set for himself. But this is the big leagues. And as with every level he’s competed at so far, he needs to learn to compete at this level now too. What does that mean? It means he needs to start swimming up stream again. Unfortunately all he’s heard lately is that he can do this. He’s “got this”. The expectations were such that it made it seem as though it was a given he’d make it past Q-School on his first try. That, in turn, created an interesting situation – he knew he was ready to do this – but I think he lost track of how REALLY hard this was going to be. His physical game is there, but I think he underestimated the mental tax he’d have to pay at this stage. I almost think that if all along he’d have been told he couldn’t do it…that perhaps these first 2 rounds may have been below par – although I suppose that could’ve backfired as well under the stress. Don’t get me wrong, obviously Tom knew it wasn’t going to be easy, especially given the amount of stress he was under even before he left Michigan…but there’s a certain fire that burns when you come to the realization that you’re fighting the current, against the odds…swimming up stream.
Tom needed a reason to swim up stream & I hope he found it after these first 2 rounds – especially as he sits on the “bubble” tonight (27 advance to the finals from this qualifier – he currently sits in a 4-for-2 situation if it ended after today – there are 2 more rounds to go). This week doesn’t determine his status as a professional golfer. He’s made that leap. This is just the first rung in the fish ladder.
If anyone was watching online today, you may have noticed that they didn’t update the scores until late in the day. The feedback I’ve gotten from Tom regarding the qualifier is that the Kent County Amateur is run better than they are running this event! It’s 5:30pm and he doesn’t even know his tee time for tomorrow (the last group was done before 3pm). I guess I expected this to be run like (if not better than) a USGA event – which is done VERY efficiently & professionally. This, apparently, is not the case…
Tom was not totally unhappy with his play today…he said that even though he hit a good first tee shot, it took him a few holes to get comfortable, which is understandable. His group also was put on the clock on the 4th hole due to one of his playing partners – which is maddening when you play fast like Tom does. Fortunately he settled down & the slow player picked up his pace. It was an up & down round but he held it together to finish with an even par 72 – which is 3 strokes back of the lead & T14 overall (out of 73 players). The cut for last year was -1 after 4 rounds (at the same golf course). Again; a marathon not a sprint.
It’s hard to hear him express that he still feels pressure from people to do well (not that they do it on purpose obviously). He’s constantly getting text messages from well-wishers and that reminder that he has a LARGE group of people watching this from home wears on him. I try to get him to realize that regardless of what happens this week, this journey is far from over…but those words seem trite to this man who only accepts one outcome. Win.
Thanks for reading my words…I hope this helps keep everyone informed & makes you feel like you’re right here with us the whole way! And most of all, thank you for reading my words…writing is a bit of a catharsis for me so I really appreciate anyone who cares enough to check in.
I have children so I can say this…all this waiting has been like the anticipation of a child via C-section; a life-changing event is about to happen, you know when it’s going to happen, yet you ultimately have no control over the outcome except to have made the decision to embark on this journey…then you wait and pray that everything turns out okay so you can enjoy the rewards. It’s kind of fun to be on the other end (this “child” will be borne of Tom’s efforts) but I contributed (albeit a small part) as well. I know my husband, I know his game…he’s got this…but I’m here & he’s there. I’m in THE WAITING ROOM while he gives birth to a dream. It’s going to be a long 4 days…because in the words of the wise Greg Johnson, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” and it’s just the beginning; regardless of how this week turns out.